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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Transformers: Dark of the Moon

MOVIE REVIEWS

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (2011)

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong, Glenn Morshower, Kym Whitley, Buzz Aldrin and the voices of Peter Cullen, Leonard Nimoy, Hugo Weaving, Tom Kenny, Frank Welker, James Avery, Charlie Andler, Robert Foxworth and Jess Harnell.

Screenplay by Ehren Kruger.

Directed by Michael Bay.

Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures.   157 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

 

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon

When the second Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen, was met with critical derision and audience confusion (though neither problem stopped the movie from being a smash hit), director Michael Bay promised that he recognized the mistakes he made in the second film of the series and he would make up for it with the third.

Dark of the Moon would be more like the first film, Bay said.  Gone would be the confusing mythology and the silly sexually and ethnically inappropriate humor.  Gone would be Megan Fox’s pouty bitchiness (though Bay insisted that call came from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg, not himself.)  The story would make more sense.  The action would be more streamlined.  The characterization – which was a surprising strong point in the first Transformers movie – would be worked on harder.  Sorry all you millions of people who plunked down money for Revenge of the Fallen, he seemed to be saying – this time we’ll do better.  Honest.

You know what?  I’ll bet Michael Bay believes he did just that with this new chapter.

Doesn’t make it so, though.

Okay, in fairness, Dark Side of the Moon is a little better than the second film, but that is more due to the amazing wretchedness of the second chapter than any great improvement in the third.

If anything, this one is even longer than the endless last one, just as confusing and the characters are less likable.  (Shia LaBeouf’s hero character of Sam Witwicky has turned into a real smug, rude asshole somewhere along the way.)

However, Bay has done one thing that is truly exceptional with Dark of the Moon.  He found an actress to play Sam’s latest way-too-hot-for-him girlfriend who is even more attractive and even less of an actress than Megan Fox was.  Not that it is really even Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s fault.  She seems like a nice fashion model who was just minding her own business and got thrown in way over her head, most likely given no direction or guidance by Bay.  As far as he was concerned, she could be there simply because she was hot – there was really no other purpose to her character.  Besides, with the dialogue she was given, even Meryl Streep or Dame Judi Dench would come out looking ridiculous in the role. 

In fact, a few extremely talented actors are made to look just as ridiculous as the new girl in Autobot town.  How can we expect her to look like a professional actress when Bay had Oscar-caliber actors like John Malkovich, John Turturro and Frances McDormand looking like untalented rank amateurs?

Dark Side of the Moon suffers from the same basic problem all of the films had: it’s not all that easy to get all worked up about a bunch of machines kicking the crap out of each other.  I could stage a fight between my television set and my refrigerator, but no one would care to watch it.  Certainly not for over two-and-a-half hours

It doesn’t help at all that the Transformers are such ridiculous looking contraptions too, all dangling doors and tires and windows and weird angles and goofy faces.  I challenge anyone who is not a hardcore fan to be able to pick out more than two of them out by name.  I’m shocked that I can even recognize Optimus Prime and Bumble Bee.  I was never sure through the rest of the film which of these ridiculous robots were good guys or bad guys. 

Not that I really cared all that much. 

It’s actually kind of a shame, because Dark of the Moon actually started out with an interesting variation on the story – the suggestion that the first manned moon landing was actually a front to investigate an Autobot shipwreck.  Of course, Bay plays fast and loose with the historical timeline – showing President John F. Kennedy sending the astronauts to space and then President Richard Nixon congratulating them for their return.  (Is Bay suggesting the flight lasted five years?  No, he’s just not a nuanced enough filmmaker to show the passage of time clearly.

This interesting tack is quickly mostly abandoned for the same old Transformers stuff.  Also, this historical trick is brought back a couple of other times with diminishing results  (they suggest that the bad guy Decepticons are responsible for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which seems like a lack of tact and a bit of bad taste). 

I suppose though, the most damning thing I can say about Dark of the Moon is that my nine-year-old nephew, who loved the first two films and is hugely into the toys, hated the third movie. 

I never cared in the least about the Transformers, but I mostly agree with him. 

And after all that, Dark of the Moon still is a little better than Revenge of the Fallen was.  Kinda scary.  I guess that tells you all you really need to know about the series.  If you need a little Transformers fix, watch the first hour of the first film.  That’s all the average viewer will ever really need to see. 

I hope that Bay makes good on his latest promise that this will be the final Transformers movie.  I hate to say it, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of them, even if Bay is no longer involved next time around.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 23, 2011.

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Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 23, 2011.

 

 

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