Movie Review: Transformers: Dark Of The Moon
Prinz Lee wrote this review 5 years and 2 months ago
In the minds of those of us who grew up watching Transformers, it’s without question when the name Michael Bay comes up, we’ll forever link him to the complete disaster this franchise turned out to become when crossing from cartoon animation into the realm of live-action-based film. Financially, Michael Bay and Co. has profited lovely, however, artistically…umm…yes and no. I can sit here and perhaps break down some points, but after the 1st and especially horrid 2nd film…I can totally understand how this loathed franchise has been verbally shat on as we set in on its 3rd. and final chapter.
Trying to do what I can to “beat” everyone to the punch (Sort of), I emailed, called and text’d a few peeps and was able to lock down one of those market research type of screenings, and able to have joined an “elite group” of those that were able to sit and watch it about 3 weeks (Monday, June 13th) prior to its opening. The version I saw (and NOT that I cared much) wasn’t in 3D, however, many of the scenes throughout this seemingly 2½ hour film are obvious and I imagine would look amazing AND mind blowing when enhancing visuals with today’s upgraded version(s) of modern technology!
Minus the 3D enhancement and having suspended all kinds of expectations (Remember it’s a Bay film), I actually liked it. I was biased to a degree because this film brings-forth Shockwave (My favorite Transformer and first TF toy I owned), displays a wee bit better script (Not the best, it still has its goofs), it’s darker (you’ll see what I mean) and for the most part, it’s broken down in ways which allowed [me] to feel more for these characters, whereas in the first two, that never really happened.
Plot Quickie: A pretty cool intro recollects the war for Cybertron and the real reason behind the U.S.- Soviet space race of the 1960s. Cut to the present where Sam (LaBeouf) is struggling to find his first post-college job, while the Autobots led by Optimus and the U.S. military's NEST team led by Lt. Col. Lennox (Duhamel) work as a loving couple to take out the remaining Decepticons (Autobot motherfuckers I hate you!) around the world. However, the “evil,” alien robots eventually obtain the upper hand and begin an invasion to conquer Earth with The Windy City as Ground Zero in this final war between the Autobots/humans and Decepticons. (A lot more is going on, but for the sake of spoilers and sparing me your whining, I'll keep it at that.)
Personally, Transformers: Dark of the Moon definitely has a little more of a plot than the first two. A main reason why it does, it’s because there’s more at stake this time, and it's the first Transformers film where you actually develop some sense of physical or emotional results due to the events that transpire. (One issue I had was that the timing of the villains' scheme makes no sense given all that's happened in the series so far.) However, the film works because of its kick-ass action scenes. (Normally action isn’t something I evaluate a film on, but this is an exception). Bay's action scenes here are bigger, better and upgraded by brut, even though it's still fucking tough at times to tell the robots apart in battle. That said something that raised my level of interest is that this time around, these mechanical thugs have more distinct personalities. When a thug-bot dies here, you feel it unlike Jazz in the first film. The cynic in me also found it quite pleasing when noticing how more humanoids die, with scores of poor Chicagoans blasted when my boys (Decepticons) establish base camp in the Windy City. (The Chicago invasion sequence alone makes the film worth watching!) The Decepticons are legitimately beyond frightening at times here, such as when they invade homes and embark on an assassination sequence that's so fucking creepy, it’s awesome!
Performance-wise, Shia remains Shia! I’m not a fan, I’m not a hater, and whether you like it or not, his character is the reason why YOU, as the viewer, is even interested in whatever human element this alien-hate-crime-driven franchise provides. Victoria's Secret model-turned-first time actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley helps you forget all about Megan Fox (I think) within moments of seeing her onscreen. Where Fox's love interest was skanky, Rosie's is charming, sweet and adds a different element to the word ‘hot.’ Patrick Dempsey makes a great douchebag as Carly's boss Dylan Gould, who is unsurprisingly not as nice as he initially, seems.
The flat-lining back-story between Simmons and Mearing was completely unnecessary and annoying, but not as much as the inclusion of John Malkovich (who I happen to enjoy in other roles) and Ken Jeong! Why? Well, they quickly over kill their welcome with awkward and unfunny scenes. And, last but not least, Kevin Dunn and Julie White return s Sam's annoying parents, however, in a smaller dose than before—very thankful for that! (They’re ONE of many reasons why I couldn’t stand the first two)
Lest we forget the comebacks of, Duhamel and Gibson who provide the action movie muscle in their underwritten, one-dimensional roles. Frances McDormand tries to class things up and bring an edge of seriousness to the proceedings as National Intelligence Director Mearing. Showing up third time also is John Turturro, who chews the scenery as former FBI agent Simmons.
Cutting to the chase: The robots are the real reason why people go to see these crazy movies and thankfully, they're better served and/or equipped here than they were last time around! Optimus Prime is finally depicted as the kickass robot warrior fans of the animated series remember him as, and has throw-downs in this movie that are the best he's ever had in the trilogy. Megatron is also back, disturbingly disfigured by the Egyptian battle…and I’m not talking about the uprising back in February!
My God, Savior and Guiding Light, Shockwave, Starscream, and the Wreckers have their heavy hitting thug-bot moments, while Wheelie and Brains are thankfully not nearly as goofy as recent TV spots have suggested. The biggest robot role here besides Optimus is Sentinel Prime, voiced by Leonard Nimoy. He's fucking awesome as Optimus' mentor and the Autobot discovered by the Apollo 11 astronauts during the film's pre-credits sequence.
Michael Bay and Co. (along with Steven Spielberg) go all out to redeem themselves here. Did they succeed? I think so. Of course, those who hate the series won't be convinced no matter what, but will live up to human nature’s contradiction as I’m sure they'll be going out to see it. There are pacing issues and SMALL speed-bumps of stupid humor which seems to threaten a downfall, however, manages to hold its own, developed unexpected strength and held strong. Its last hour is the full-on human/robot war film that the The Terminator series has always promised but never delivered.
In conclusion, I guess the series is over now (maybe), and will have to settle for whatever was presented. I know I wanted to see more of Soundave, I was looking forward to perhaps the Dinobots, among a few other story-lines and/or robots I recall from the cartoons/comics, but maybe it would have been too complex. With that said, Transformers: Dark of the moon is not a great movie, but helped heal the wound left by R.O.T.F. It was good enough for me, and I’m sure it’ll earn enough respect as the best one within the franchise’s trilogy.