Tuesday, July 5, 2011

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (2011) - Bigger and better

Michael Bay gets a lot of crap about the way his movies all seem alike as well as his massive use of explosions and special effects. Whether you like his films or not, it's pretty clear to see that Bay is exactly the guy needed to direct a franchise based on a children's TV show about giant, transforming robots that come to wreak havoc on Earth. With Transformers, there really isn't any other way to approach other than just making the biggest, loudest, most visually dazzling picture that budget will allow, and he's done just that with the latest in the series. Anyone paying for a $20 IMAX ticket to Dark of the Moon and expecting to see a great screenplay and fantastic acting should have learned their lesson a while ago.

Any guy who says he wouldn't want to have Optimus Prime's voice is lying.
This time around, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) has moved in with his new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), replacing poor Megan Fox and her weird toe thumb. Sam has been having trouble adjusting to his life out of college, since he's out of a job and no one seems to be giving him any respect. The Autobots, still led by Optimus Prime, are now working for the government and kicking terrorist ass worldwide in order to keep the world safe, but things don't stay rosy for too long. Optimus learns that the humans had discovered an Autobot ship on the dark side of the Moon during the Apollo landings. The Autobots investigate and find the Ark, a ship belonging to an Autobot stashed inside the ship named Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy).

Louis Stevens: humanity's last hope for survival.
Optimus rescues and revives Sentinel Prime, who informs them that the Decepticons are after a powerful technology called the Pillars, and that they must not get their hands on it. Sam offers his services to the government after witnessing a Decepticon attack on a co-worker at his new job, and is there to witness as Sentinel Prime betrays the Autobots. It's revealed Sentinel had a secret pact with the Decepticons, and after he kills Ironhide, he helps the Decepticons to plan and pull off an invasion of Earth by transporting huge armies through time and space to win the war once and for all, and enslave the human race. Things get a bit more complicated as we learn that the Decepticons may in fact have some human allies helping them on Earth, willing to betray their own kind.

Watching Bay turn Chicago into a war zone is the best part of the movie.
 Weak story and wooden acting aside, you have to hand it to Michael Bay: the guy knows how to make a bitching popcorn movie. Transformers looks absolutely amazing. It's incredible to see the kind of sharp, life-like CGI that $195 million will buy. The robots themselves are great to look at, and the battle scenes are even better. The Decepticon invasion and attack is insane: whole city blocks are demolished with enormous explosions, with hundreds of planes, vehicles, people and robots sharing the screen in a spectacular orgy of synchronized destruction on an epic scale. There's a slick freeway chase scene that's amongst the best scenes in the movie, while the long final battle in which most of Chicago is turned to rubble is so wickedly entertaining that it is without a doubt a series highlight.

When in doubt, cast a former Victoria's Secret model.
 Bay has also cut down a bit on the ridiculously quick cuts from the first movie that made it nearly impossible to see just what the hell was going during action scenes. He's replaced most of that nonsense with slow motion instead, and while it's still annoying, at least you now have a clearer look at the action. Fantastic visuals aside, Dark of the Moon falls short in the same areas like the previous flicks, although this one enjoys a better cast thanks to good turns by John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and the always hilarious John Turturro. Firefly favorite Alan Tudyk and The Hangover's Ken Jeong have brief, weak cameos. Dark of the Moon is a much more enjoyable movie than the first two however, since Bay focuses more time on the action and less on the basically half-assed attempt at story, and keeps things moving briskly.

Poor Tyrese and Duhamel get less screen time than the annoying Mexican Transformer.
It's a movie made to be watched and enjoyed in 3D, make mountains of cash at the box office, and keep you interested enough to make you shell out the $20 to watch the inevitable sequel. If you accept it for what it is, and look past the obvious flaws, it can be an enjoyable movie. Bay knows the secret to putting asses in seats: amazing visuals, having Shia LeBeouf scream at the top of his lungs every 10 minutes, comedic one-liners from expendable characters, and slow-motion panning shots of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's ass as she climbs stairs in her underwear. If you're not watching it on the big screen in all it's 3D glory, you're missing the point.

TL;DR - Better cast and better action make this the best Transformers movie yet - 6/10


  1. nice blog... have a view of my blog when free.. http://www.lonelyreload.com (A Growing Teenager Diary) .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

  2. I'm actually marveling at the cast more than the effects. Now I might have to Netflix it.

  3. eh, still not sold on this franchise. Saw the first one when it came out and I damn near tore my eyes out.

  4. I'm not very impressed with the overt use of CG anymore. I did like it once but it's getting old. I'm starting to appreciate movies that hide their use and make you wonder: did they or didn't they?

  5. will have to note down to read this after i see the film, although not very keen on it except for the sake that it's transformers.

  6. @Buckaroopopcorn: I agree. That's how CGI should be used, to enhance, but not replace.

    @MRanthrope: I hear ya. I forced myself to get through the 2nd one and it took all my willpower not to smash my TV.

  7. "Better cast and better action make this the best Transformers movie yet"

    I disagree, the 1986 film trumps all of these baysplosion films.

  8. This is a good action packed movie sure to please the science fiction/fantasy enthusiast. The story starts with an alternate history of the moon landing with an alien discovery twist and moves on to become a fast-paced action movie with the familiar heroes except for one, a new romantic interest.