US Release Date: 06-29-2011
Directed by: Michael Bay
- Shia LaBeouf, as
- Sam Witwicky
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, as
- Josh Duhamel, as
- John Turturro, as
- Tyrese Gibson, as
- Patrick Dempsey, as
- Rich Hutchman, as
- Frances McDormand, as
- John Malkovich, as
- Bruce Brazos
- Kevin Dunn, as
- Ron Witwicky
- Julie White, as
- Judy Witwicky
- Alan Tudyk, as
- Ken Jeong, as
- Jerry Wang
- Buzz Aldrin, as
- Buzz Aldrin
- Bill O'Reilly as
- Bill O'Reilly
Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Before reviewing this latest Transformers sequel, I went back and reread my reviews for the first two films. I found both of them to be filled with amazing special effects, but with no character development and felt that they both ran on for at least 30 minutes too long. Now, you have to give director Michael Bay credit for his consistency, because that is exactly my opinion once again for this installment!
Never for any movie has the phrase, "the plot's not important" been more apt than for this one. The one and only reason to watch it is to see some kickass action scenes with giant robots, which is what this movie delivers, particularly in the final 45 minutes. And yet the film takes nearly that long before it gets going. Far too much time is spent on Sam (LaBeouf) and his smoking hot, but dull, girlfriend.
For those of you who must know, very briefly, an Autobot ship carrying a secret weapon that supposedly would have ended the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, crash landed on the moon. Inside the ship is Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), the leader of the Autobots before Optimus. Optimus revives him and the Autobots try to prevent the Decepticons from using the secret weapon to transform the Earth and enslave the human race. This all leads up to an exciting and action packed finale during which most of Chicago is destroyed.
There are so many scenes that could and should have been cut. The opening scenes showing the American space race are unneeded. All we need is the explanation a whoring-it-for-the-money Frances McDormand gives when she tells Optimus (and the audience) that the American Space Race was in response to an alien ship crashing on the Moon. Sam's parents are embarrassing and unnecessary. Ken Jeong makes a cameo appearance, seeming almost as the same character he's played in both Hangover films. While his part generated the most laughs from the audience I saw it with, it seems oddly out of place and ultimately just slows down the story. Likewise, John Turturro and his sidekick, played by Alan Tudyk, are amusing, but add to the running time.
While Bay has trouble generating genuine emotion or three-dimensional characters we can care about, he certainly excels at using CGI to create amazing visuals. These days we take such things for granted, but the destruction of Chicago is eye-popping and incredibly real looking. There is literally nothing that filmmakers can imagine that can't be presented on screen these days with realistic detail.
Remember when we would all "Believe a man can fly"? Well, applying that same tagline here, "You will believe giant robots can destroy a skyscraper". Although the scene where the giant worm like robot tears through the office building has been shown in all of the previews, it is nothing in comparison to seeing it on the big screen and in 3-D. And yes, this is one movie where I actually recommend seeing it in 3-D to get the full effect. All it has going for it are the effects and so you might as well see it as big and as loud as you possibly can.
I'm sure this movie will make a boatload of money and yet another Transformers movie will be made. If somehow they could hire a writer to inject some real emotion into this story, I might be able to get excited about it. But it will probably end up like the first three; an empty, soulless special-effects laden extravaganza that wows the eyes, but does nothing for the heart or mind.
Shia LeBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
The most emotional thing about Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the dramatic soundtrack by Steve Jablonsky. He has done the music for many Michael Bay films, including the other two Transformers movies. His music, along with the sound of the Autobots and Decepticons transforming and battling add greatly to the films excitement.
As Scott wrote, the plot is almost none existent. All you need to know is that the Autobots and the Decepticons fight and fight and fight. Scott wrote that much could have been cut from the film and I agree. However, I think Sam's parents and Simmons are worth a few laughs. The parts of Lennox and Epps could have been cut completely. Sure, they were in the other films but, other than recognition sake, what do they add to the film that any generic soldier could not?
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is as hot as all that and a bag of barbecue chips. She is not much of an actress, but she can pose like it's nobodies business. Apparently Bay is a butt man, as her first scene is reminiscent of Megan Fox's first scenes in the previous films. Speaking of Fox, two Autobots briefly discuss her character, "She was mean." Perhaps they are discussing Fox as well? Her well publicized insults of working with Michael Bay include, "He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is."
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the very definition of a summer popcorn film. It throws lots of explosions and action at you, while hoping you never stop to actually think about anything to much. If visuals are all you expect from a film then this is the movie for you.
Shia LaBeouf and Tyrese Gibson in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
The third time is not the charm with the Transformers franchise. Dark of the Moon is bloated and overproduced. And while the CGI effects remain state of the art the fight scenes seem to go on endlessly. I was exhausted by the time it was finally over.
There is a decent action movie in here somewhere, it just seems as if Michael Bay was too concerned with topping himself and giving the audience its money's worth. I agree the opening half hour should have been truncated and the climax should have been shortened by a good 15 to 20 minutes as well.
Shia LeBeouf has charm and he manages to act opposite his CGI costars with a certain naturalness. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley makes a decent damsel in distress and certainly has the prerequisite looks for the part of the hot girlfriend. The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces but all the flesh and blood actors take a back seat to the titular alien lifeforms as they battle for Earth and its inhabitants.
I enjoyed the first two installments but Transformers: Dark of the Moon has too much of everything. I can honestly say I was bored silly before it was all said and done. I hope they leave it as a trilogy so I never again have to sit through another battle between the Autobots and Decepticons.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (2011)