Movie of the Day – Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Well another summer movie season means another event film released to the masses.  If you aren’t familiar with the term”event film” well let us say that it is the most hotly contested, eagerly awaited movie of the summer.  While Transformers 3 may not be “the” event film of the summer, it is surely one of the largest releases of the year next to the final Harry Potter movie.  Transformers has had a storied career, with a stellar first release and then the terrible, almost downright offensive second film “Revenge of the Fallen”, there is a lot of scorn and intrigue that the third installment of the robots in disguise series has for fans.

In some ways we know what to expect with the third movie.  More explosions, more action, more everything, and in some ways that is a good and bad thing.  I will admit, I liked the first movie, a lot even.  It had robots wrecking shit, robots transforming, an interesting relationship between a boy and his car, and Peter Cullen bring my childhood to life with his reprisal of Optimus Prime.  I will ignore the scenery chewing acting, yawn inducing actors Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, and the juvenile mentality of Michael Bay.  I got a solid action movie that was entertaining and brought to life something as children, we have only seen in cartoons.  The second movie, crushed my childhood.  The action scenes were a mess, you couldn’t tell what was happening, LaBeouf and Fox were annoying again, the characters from the previous movie are now stereotypes and caricatures of their previous incarnation and even more adolescent fantasies of how women are portrayed in movies and racists looking robots.  It was like he polled a group of 12-year-old kids, sharing a copy of Maxim magazine and drinking Mountain Dew, about what they want in the next movie.  It was atrocious to say the least.

So now we come to the third installment of the series.  At a staggering two and a half hours, I knew I was in for a long, action packed, 3-D film.  I am interested in whether Bay was able to learn from his mistakes of the second movie and deliver us a better paced, action filled, all thrill no frill movie.  Well with a Lord of the Rings like running time, it damn well better deliver.

Plot:

In 1961, America and Russia were in a time crunch to beat one another to the moon.  Not because we wanted to be the first people on the moon, but rather we wanted to know what crashed on the moon.  Our first American astronauts traveled to the moon and discovered that we weren’t alone in the universe.  Sam Witwicky is a newly graduated college student, living with his new girlfriend Carly Spencer and he is down on his luck with work.  Sam longs to be on the front lines with Optimus Prime and the Autobots.  After an excursion to Chernobyl to recover some science experiments, the Autobots learn that a relic of their technology has been in existence longer than they have been on Earth.

It is revealed the space race was a mean to retrieve their technology that crashed landed on the moon and this prompts the Autobots to travel to the moon.  They search the wreckage and a long-lost Autobot, Sentinel Prime and additional cargo.  Sentinel Prime is brought back to life and inquires about the missing cargo.  Sam is now starting work, but is approached by co-worker and it is revealed that there is an on going conspiracy about what was really recovered from the moon crash site and how the Decepticons are involved.  Sam rushes to find the Autobots and explain the situation.

Now the Autobots must find a way to stop the Decepticons from using the recovered crash relics to bring about the destruction of the planet and human race.

I am avoiding spoilers, what little there is, as the plot is just a means for a final third act, epic battle scene.

Characters:

Alright, I am going to come right out and say it, I don’t care about any of the human characters in this movie.  I have found Shia LaBeouf’s character to be utterly annoying and unlikeable in all the movies.  His characterization is manic at best, jumping all over the emotional spectrum and not maintaining a consistent emotional state.  That is a big problem when the main character of the movie is not likeable and more annoying.  Heck I was wishing that he would get crushed by one of the Autobots foot during a mass shootout.  In the previous movies, we are supposed to witness Sam grow up and become a mature character.  He graduated from high school in the first, got a car and formed a bond between Megan Fox and Bumble Bee.  The second movie, he goes to college, befriends some douche, confused and unsure of himself and unlikeable.  Now this movie, out of job, questioning his girlfriends motives and her relationship with her boss, and is generally this whiny bitch.  What about this character am I supposed to like.

Now the newest actress to join the cast of Transformers is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, playing Carly Spencer.  She is Megan Fox’s replacement and is surprisingly decent actor.  But here is where Bay just blows his load with this character.  She is a sex object, nothing more to Bay and nothing more to the audience.  Fuck the opening scene of her introduction is just a tracking shot close up of her ass, walking up the stairs to greet Sam in bed.  That about sums up her use in the movie.  That’s it, you have one opportunity to introduce a character and the function is meant to show how hot she is.  Bravo.  She is more an object of desire than a real character and the next best scene to exemplify this is when  Carly Spencer’s boss, Patrick Dempsey surprisingly, is telling Sam about the beauty and elegance of cars, the curves, the engine and how they need to be handled by experienced people.  During this whole masturbation scene, the camera focuses on Carly the entire time.  Never once showing the car for more than a split second.  She is just as important as a car.

Now I could go on and on about my general disdain about the main characters and their use in the movie, but I want to touch on the side characters.  Josh Duhamel is back as the charismatic military leader and one of more likeable actors in the movie.  Frances McDormand is a welcome sight and one of the few examples of women in this movie that aren’t looking like they stepped off a Victoria Secret runway.  She looked normal, but sadly her story arc is truncated and doesn’t go anywhere.  Last is Alan Tudyk and John Turturro’s bodyguard Dutch.  He was unpredictable and always a blast to watch.

Last is the reason that this movie has some semblance of acting and that is the voices of the Transformers.  Peter Cullen as Optimus, Leonard Nemoy as Sentinel Prime, and Hugo Weaving as Megatron.  There was more of an emotional connection with these robots than any thing else in the movie.  To hear their familiar voices, they gave life to the animated machines and made watching them interact with one another on-screen important.  Noble, wise and expressive, it shows that this movie could cut all the human elements out of the movie and you would have a solid, well acted movie.

Story/Direction:

I wish that the story would have stuck with the Apollo 11 mission.  I love conspiracy theories and the fact that they re-wrote history to show that the space race was a means to be the first to check out the wreckage was awesome.  It is sad that the story line just trails off and we get some unsatisfying, throwaway line about why we didn’t go back to the moon.  I think they had something more in mind for the story line, but just dropped it in favor of putting all their effort into the final act of the movie.  They did find a way to show that the Decepticons were manipulating humans the whole time in order to advance their agenda.  It showed a much larger conspiracy and a deeper insight into how the Decepticons work.  But to think that one man was able to usher in the coming doom for humanity is a bit far-fetched, but you take what you get.  Overall this story wasn’t terrible.  Far better than the second movie but not as good as the first.  I found that it set the right tone and did its job in getting us from one set piece to the other.  I do wish that it was trimmed though, as the movie could have lost the entire subplot of Sam Witwicky finding a job and the parents coming to visit.  It was unnecessary and long, but they felt that having Sam look for a job that conveniently has a plot element meant to further the movie in it was worth the 30 minutes it took to get to that point.

In terms of directing, it’s a Michael Bay film.  So you can expect explosions, actions, hot women in tight outfits, juvenile humor, and gung-ho military scenes, this was actually a better shot movie than the previous two.  Having seen numerous Bay films, there isn’t much growth in terms of style, other than the growth of his budget and action scenes.  The second movie was just Bay having the reins taken off of his back and he was free to do whatever he wanted.  Having Spielberg back on board helped curb his wild film making and made it better than I had anticipated.  There is though, a nice thing about Michael Bay directing and that is whatever Michael Bay wants, he gets.  If he needs dudes wing suiting through Chicago, he will get that even if it has no place in the movie.  If he wants a bigger explosion, he will get that.  That is something you have to admire with this director.  He can take the idea of a big, grand, noisy movie and take it to the next level.

Visuals/Score:

Hands down, one of the best looking 3D movies to have come out since Avatar.  This was gorgeous to watch in IMAX 3D and your eyeballs sexed up by the glossy visuals and stunning effects work.  The 3D added excellent depth and enhanced the enjoyment of the movie.  This is a movie I am willing to pay the up-charge to see in 3D.  While the 3D is excellent, the visuals are still top-notch.  I am still excited to watch the Transformers transform in front of our eyes and that is a strong sticking point.

There is one thing I am going to give Bay credit for and that he is a the fucking master when it comes to action sequences.  Never once did I feel that action scenes were recycled and stale.  The wing suit jump is incredible to watch in 3D, even if it didn’t have a purpose in the movie.  Bay saw something cool, took the idea, and placed it in his movie and why not, I mean you have just about every possible action trope and stunt in the movie.  If there is a definition for eye candy, Bay’s name is part of it.

At times though, the action between the Transformers is hard to take in.  The Decepticons all look the same and you can’t tell what character bit the bullet and which one is fighting in the midst of all the action.  The Autobots get the red carpet treatment with their little character traits.  Some robots have certain facial structures and unique items that give them a personality.  You connect with them as they are made to look human, or as close to human as a robot can get.

The score, not much to say other than it is nothing new and sounded all too familiar from the previous movies.

Overview:

I will admit, through all this bitching and praising, the movie is a solid summer film.  While the characters have some extreme short comings, especially with the side characters.  I mean come on, Ken Jeong is in this movie and wait for it, he plays some crazy Korean man.  Enough already, he is used for a cheap, cheap laugh and doesn’t add anything to the movie.  Sad that some of the side characters are just playing caricatures of their already cartoony characters.

If you can get past the characters and focus on the Transformers, then you will really enjoy this movie.  For being a huge, bloated budget even film, every single dollar was used wonderfully for the movie.  Not a dollar was wasted when it came to the 3D , action, and settings.  If you are in it for the action, the final third act will not disappoint.  If you are in it for the story and acting, what fucking movie did you think you were seeing?

Overall if you are wanting a stunning 3D experience and fun ride, you can’t go wrong with Transformers: Dark of the Moon (also what a stupid title).

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

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