The newest (and perhaps last) entry into the Michael Bay version of the Transformers franchise came out last night – Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. This review WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. If you don’t want to know the story come back after you’ve watched the flick.
Before we get started I want to remind readers that I’m a big Transformers geek so this may be a bit biased. If you want to get a historical perspective you can check out my reviews of the first two flicks in the franchise here:
Note that I’m one of the few that didn’t completely rip to shreds The Fallen
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat. Megan Fox did not reprise her role as Mikaela Banes this time around. While that really bummed me out when I first heard about I’m happy to report that the role of “love interest” for Shia LeBeouf’s Sam Witwicky has been more than adequately filled by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley playing Carly Spencer. Good god is this woman hot. Oh yeah… and she can ACT! I was sorry to see Fox gone but very happy to see how she was replaced.
LeBouf turns in an outstanding performance once again. Not sure what this guy did to become Speilberg and Bay’s goto guy, but he’s making the most out of his opportunity and really shining. Also reprising their roles are Josh Duhamel (Colonel Lennox), John Tuturro (Agent Simmons), Kevin Dunn & Julie White (Sam’s parents) and Tyrese Gibson (Airforce Chief). Tuturro and Gibson’s roles are somewhat smaller than they have been in previous films and I’m happy to report that Dunn & White’s roles aren’t nearly as “silly” as they were in Revenge (though they’re clearly in there for a bit of levity).
There are three noteworthy additions to the human cast (aside from the aforementioned P.O.A. Rosie). Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand and John (effing) Malkovich. Dempsey plays an art collector turned traitor who helps the Decepticons. I’ve never seen an episode of Grey’s Anatomy so to me he’s still Randy Bodek from Loverboy. McDormand plays the U.S. Secretary of Defense that I could have done without. John Malkovich (playing Sam’s boss) is absolutely BRILLIANT in a supporting role.
The old standbys are here: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Ratchet, Sideswipe, Megatron and Starscream. In addition, we get some new folks that really make this film stand out:
- Sentinel Prime – voiced by Leonard Nimoy this dude is a BAD ASS. He’s basically an ancestor of Optimus. Too bad he turns on the Autobots, kills Ironhide and nearly destroys the planet. At least he gets what’s coming to him.
- Dino/Que – new Autobots that don’t do a whole lot. Que (who apparently is Wheeljack) is essentially assassinated by Soundwave near the end of the film. I have to say that was a pretty intense scene.
- The Wreckers – this Autobot commando unit isn’t in the movie for very long but they are AWESOME.
- Soundwave – sure he was in the last flick but now he’s on Earth and kicking ass. Truly an awesome treatment of one of my all time favorite characters. Especially when they introduce Laserbeak… WOW.
- Shockwave – the big purple gun from G1 is back as a mix between Megatron and the centennials from The Matrix. This guy is cool.
I won’t do a full summary here but I’ll give you the gist. Sentinal Prime and his ship crash landed on the dark side of the moon years ago. We knew this which is why humans ever wanted to go to the moon to begin with. Optimus goes to the moon and revives Sentinal who subsequently turns on the Autobots and sets into motion a plan that he and Megatron had put into motion long ago on Cybertron. Chicago is the play land for the final fight and the “takeover” by the Decepticons is nothing short of incredible. The Autobots and humans fight back, shit blows up, people and robots die and we fade to black.
I would have liked to have seen more from Megatron here but I love the fact that they stuck with continuity and his head/face is still messed up from the last flick. You can tell that they’ve really turned things up a notch when Ironhide dies halfway through the movie. And when Starscream goes down it’s a very fitting end to his character.
As with any action movie you really need to check your common sense at the door and this one is no different. I have to say though that not once was I really “taken out” of the movie. Get your popcorn, sit down and prepare to be entertained. Don’t look for outstanding and airtight storytelling. Even though this has a running time of 155 minutes (2 and a half hours +) I never looked at my watch once. That says good pacing to me.
3D Or Not 3D
Personally I’m not a big fan of 3D movies and for that reason I didn’t see Dark of the Moon in 3D. They look OK but for me it’s just not worth the extra money (I already paid $9 for a Wednesday evening movie). Everyone always points at Avatar as the end-all-be-all of 3D movie making. This isn’t a review of Avatar so I won’t go into it other than to say that movie looked great but sucked balls. The “novelty” of 3D wore off rather quickly for me and then I was left with a supremely sub-standard movie… but I digress. In fact, with the style of movie making that Michael Bay employs, I’d suggest that the 3D experience may actually be too much. It’s already an assault on the senses and I’m not sure stuff flying AT me would help my enjoyment of the movie. I’ve seen quite a few reviews that say you simply MUST see this in 3D. Personally I don’t care.
It really seems to me that Michael Bay actually LISTENED to the critics of his last flick. Sure it made a shit ton of money but even fan boys weren’t happy with Revenge of the Fallen. There are no robot balls, humping, or overly terribly acting. The “dick and fart” jokes have been cut down on quite a bit. The dialog is snappy and witty as ever and I’m not sure if it was just me but I could follow the action (between robots) MUCH better here than I ever could in the past. That may be due to some color changes of the Transformers but I think it had just as much to do with camera work. Kudos to you Mr. Bay.
Is this going to win any Oscars? Probably not, but when I go to the movies I go to be entertained. This was FAR superior to the 2nd entry in the franchise and I’d probably also put it above the 2007 entry into the series. The robot on robot action was good, the human acting was a step above anything we’ve seen before, we get new characters (both robot and human) that are a pleasure to watch, the action was as intense as any Bay flick I’ve ever seen and the story held together better than the previous incarnations. Go see this flick.