It was four years ago that the first film in this soon to be doomed and financially raped franchise. Well maybe not so much raped but it became ultra successful. For a film that is based off of a toy line. The toy line spawned a cartoon show which gave more people more transformers to buy. The characters would become iconic nerd robots or something and Michael Bay would make the first movie. The first film had it all, well kind of, it had Optimus Prime, Starscream, Megatron, Jazz, Ratchet, and Bumblebee as well as others. The second one added some new color (literally) as well as putting nut sacks on a robot. The second film may have grossed more but it was a nightmare to behold, now Bay is back at the helm hoping to gain penance for his nightmarish second part with Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Bay’s two and a half hour epic starts off with an explanation of the war on Cybertron, and this time it’s different than the last time which was also different than the first time. You see the Autobots can’t keep their story straight so now they talk about how there was a ship that left the planet and crashed on the moon. Our idiotic and miniscule minds cannot fathom what it is so we send Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to space to see what happens. Thus setting off our very convoluted plot for Transformers.
We then get the opening credits and then a cut to the ass of a woman who happens to be wearing the Beef’s shirt. Oh it’s Megan Fox’s replacement. I see. She’s got a thick accent, but isn’t very good and is telling the Beef that stuff that I forget so it must not be important. Well Sam needs and his parents are off on a round the world trip. Sam applies at so many places, which makes me sad because as a recent college grad in the same shoes I worry that if Sam can’t get a job after saving the world twice (how do you put that on a resume) can only get a mail room job working for John Malkovich. Malkovich looks like Jack Nicholson for some reason.
Meanwhile the NEST people are in the Ukraine where a man takes them to Chernobyl to what is a Decpticon trap featuring Shockwave and Laserbeak (yay!). All hell breaks loose when Optimus finds out that the government is hiding stuff from them. From here the plot gets confusing and slowly begins to lose any steam. Laserbeaks kills anyone involved with the NASA stuff from how many years ago? I don’t know. The Beef has issues because he isn’t the main bread winner in the house hold and the new woman at the government doesn’t think he can help.
Meanwhile Optimus and the gang find Sentinel Prime (IMDB lists it as Galvatron). And this is the part where Steven Speilberg applauds the writing and storytelling ways of Bay as we find out the humans were (albeit unintentionally) working for the Decepticons. Oh wow that wasn’t predictable enough. Anyways they then send the Autobots into space and blow up their ship killing them all. The bad guys led by Megatron and Sentinel essentially destroy Chicago and begin their evil plan when an hour long bout begins and essentially comes to what seems like a few anti climatic endings.
The film itself felt long and dragged on at times as Bay films do, when things aren’t blowing up. The cast was bringing out the big guns. The Beef returns with a bit more improved acting chops since the last film but as long as he’s doing action flicks he will never be able to fully live up to his hype. Replacing Megan Fox is the Victoria’s Secret model, Rosie Huntington-Whitely who as one reviewer said perfectly is the female version of Channing Tatum. She isn’t the prettiest girl in the world but she can’t act. Then again the other two options that Bay had picked out couldn’t act either. John Tutturo returns for a third time playing the same character. While his character has seemingly grown more and more absurd with each film Tutturo returns with the same energy he had in the previous film and acts out the character nicely. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson recur their roles and it seems more and more that the backstories they had in the first film go to waste even further as they are just army men. The film also features the accomplished actress Frances McDormand in a role that is seemingly beneath her. John Malkovich is also present for a very brief time in the film as is Alan Tudyk who brings his voice acting chops as Tuturro’s sidekick.
Voice acting is tougher and as we have learned only some can do it well. Peter Cullen was the original voice of Optimus so there was nothing awful here. Hugo Weaving reprises his role as Megatron which is a good thing because he can steal a show even as an actor (see The Matrix Trilogy, V For Vendetta). I am fairly certain though that one of the more seasoned voice actors is Nemoy. Yes, Mr. Spock does the voice of Sentinel and as always is pretty damn good at it. He knows what he’s doing and god dammit he does it well.
The directing is so-so. I say this because Bay knows action sequences and those are some of the better ones in the film let alone in general. I really do like how Bay can get the beautiful images during an explosion. Granted he can’t direct his actors to convey really deep emotions either. That may be more the script than him but I am not quite sure what to say in those regards. When it comes to telling a story the director should be in charge and make that happen, I feel as though his shot choices at some times were poor and didn’t flow well enough but at other times they were rather well…good unlike other action films.
There were obvious pacing problems and that is a directorial flaw. Clocking in at two and a half hours with no real concise plot and characters that lack depth really hurt a film that is slowly developing and hoping to gain the fans forgiveness for the awful atrocity that was the previous film.
The effects were the highlight of the film though. As most of them stand out it’s quite beautiful to see. The robots look just as good if not better in the third installment and stand out albeit most of them just blend in with the others. Bay has really gotten his effects department going and it shows. The city of Chicago in ruins is a sight to behold and quite frankly something I might consider seeing in 3D if I had a chance.
The music choice featured some of the usual score music form the trilogy and the actual soundtrack that was used felt a bit bland and boring. U2? Goo Goo Dolls? What was the bland adult alternative that we got at touching scenes? The soundtrack to the second one was far superior but it also still did feature a new track from Linkin Park.
The scripting was the worst part of the film. The lack of any real story development and character realtions just really hinders the film’s overall performance. I found myself more or less chuckling at the awful lines that the Beef and the rest of his human counterparts have to deliver. There was a scene in the film where the Beef asks Tyrese why he’s helping him and Tyrese simply responds “That jackass killed my friends too” in a very flat Tyrese tone. I was not convinced. It’s almost as if I was watching the love story from the last Star Wars films fold out with the Beef and the Stick.
I went into this film with very low expectations and I left the employee screening at the Regal theater entertained but insulted. It’s easy these days for find a simple film that will just entertain you and not make you think about any consequences of the heroes actions or what kind of deep powerful meaning was hidden within the film, see Green Lantern, but there are other films that actually leave you with a message even if it’s a simple on in the summer film season, see X-Men First Class, but then there is Dark of the Moon and that one just insults your intelligence by assuming you have none and makes you stupider for watching it. Yes I was entertained by the beautiful effects and the fan service by placing lesser known robots like Laserbeak in it but at the same time I was insulted by the actual lack of a plot and mediocre acting and god awful writing. What Bay did differently was not use this as a chance to make a killing in the box office thanks in part to the product placement we saw in the first two but a chance to redeem himself. I kept wondering when Astro Train would come flying in like a tard and have Grimlock right behind him. Don’t know why but a piece of my childhood has been given a funeral and that was Dark of the Moon.
Not even all the pretty effects save this one from a negative review as I hand Bay and his Bayformers a low 4.5/10. Sure the film is watchable and something one should view on a large TV when it’s only 3 dollars on demand but in any case don’t feed the beast the money cause he can and will retcon the other movies and make a fourth.