Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

The poster depicts of a Transformer named Optimus Prime, standing with his blade on his left arm, and his blaster on his right arm, with a young couple standing below the Transformer, and standing in front of a crashlanded Decepticon fighter. The characters appear to be in the war-torn city of Chicago, with Decepticon battleships surrounding and guarding the city. The film title and credits are on the bottom of the poster.Disclaimer: Pink Floyd are in no way affiliated with this film, smart move

In 1961, American launched a mission to the moon, with their real intentions being to find what crashed on the moon, which actually was a ship from Cybertron, home planet of the Transformers.. Three years after the events of the second film, the Autobots continue to work for the NEST (Networked Elements: Supporters and Transformers) military force. Meanwhile, the Decepticons unveil a plan to use the new groundbreaking technology, the Pillars, to enslave Humanity in order to save Cybertron.

The film opens with a flashback to the 1961, as the Americans launch their mission to the moon, with the real intention being to see what crashed on the moon, which is revealed to be a Cybertronian spaceship. This is one of the things I believe the film gets done brilliantly, as they manage to integrate the film well into real life events in a great opening sequence. But then the brilliance vanishes and we are left with Carly being introduced with a perverted shot of her ass going up the stairs, pulling you back into the reality that you are watching a Michael Bay film.

In the run up to this film, Michael Bay constantly said that this film would make up for Revenge of the Fallen. Now that the film is out, the big question is: did Bay live up to his word? For starters, there's no giant robot testicles, or any sign of Dane Cook and Pauly Shore Skids and Mudflap. The plot is less convulted and actually quite easy to follow. The big piece of evidence in Bay's word is that, unlike the last film, the deaths are handled very well. They're nothing of the blink-and-miss variety, but manage to actually carry some weight behind them as opposed to making these characters feel like throwaways. It also helps vastly that none of the deaths are cheapened by convenient resurrections which make the death scenes feel pathetic and useless, but the deaths stick and the characters who are killed stay that way.

The film got a number of new Autobots and Decepticons added to the mix of the returning robotic faces. The most notable (and best!) additions are Shockwave, a Decepticon who can transform into a giant robotic driller worm and Sentinel Prime, predecessor of Optimus. Wheelie returns from the last film along with a new partner, Brains, and they manage to be typically little annoyances who you would like to see dead. Starscream continues his role from the last film as he's still the whiny and grovelling wimp to Megatron rather than the bloodthirsty Decepticon who vied to overthrow Megatron and take leadership that we could've done with, but at least he isn't beaten on constantly. I did find it surprising as to how underutilized Megatron was, as he barely appeared in the film compared to the other two films. He wasn't even the main villain in the second one and he still made more appearances than in this film.

Not only did the film boast new Autobots and Decepticons, but also had new supporting cast members. John Malkovich chews the scenery in every single scene of his whilst managing to feel vastly unneeded. Ken Jeong is known for being over the top in Community, with terrific results, but his being over the top here is a bad thing as it's just utterly annoying. Patrick Dempsey plays Carly's lecherous boss, which is a pretty useless role, but I did like how there was more to his character than just being a pervy boss. Alan Tudyk plays Dutch, personal assistant to Agent Simmons and manages to shine out of all the useless supporting cast added to this film, eliciting a number of grin worthy moments.

The most notable of the new human characters is former model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, taking over the role of Sam's obligatory girlfriend after Megan Fox got fired for comparing Michael Bay to Hitler. Bay appears to have chosen Huntington-Whiteley for the role due to her looks over actually being able to act, as she is awful, even going as far as making you miss Megan Fox.

While the first hour and a half of the film is pretty padded and plods along with a variety of useless scenes, the last hour manages to be what we want from this film, as it pick ups with what is pretty much one long action sequence, as we see the Decepticons succeed and take over. This gives us a chance to see destroyed sets and surroundings which are brilliant to look at. I also really enjoyed how they got to show the humans fighting well against the Decepticons, just to show not to leave everything to Optimus and co.

A number of characters have hidden agendas, with them turning out to be on another side (I'm being vague here as to not spoil things for those who haven't seen this film). All i'm going to say is the reasons for their allegiances make sense and actually feel a little believable, and not so much like out of the blue and just there for drama. The action and CG are pretty much the only reason you actually watch a Transformers film, and they are terrific here, and less dizzy and disorientating.

"The name's Prime, Sentinel Prime"
(Helps if you say it in a scottish accent)

It was quite weird how the pillars went up all around the world for the Decepticons to appear, but we only saw the ones who were in Chicago, as if any Decepticons who arrived somewhere other than Chicago weren't worth mentioning. Unless they all converged to Chicago to be with Megatron and the other Decepticons, which is stupid as you can't enslave all of humanity from one place. The film is unashamed in being loud, what with every character shouting and the constant Michael Bay explosions inhabiting the screen, along with the constant and unnecessary swearing.

A lot of the autobots have accents which are just terrible. Sam is quite the ass, which makes you not understand why Carly is actually with this unlikable character. The acoustic rock music which accompanies many of the scenes is terrible, and I found it quite strange that the Transformers can suddenly bleed red paint, despite never doing any of the sort in the previous two films. As expected, the attempts at comedy aren't actually funny, but rather awkward and cringe-worthy.

The biggest problem with Dark of the Moon is that it manages to greatly outstay it's welcome, running for much too long at approximately 2 hours and 34 minutes, which is made even worse by the fact that a lot of the scenes in the film add nothing to the plot and slow the film's pace, which would've made this a much leaner and tighter film if these scenes were cut.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon makes up for the low points of the previous film, but it cannot make up for the typical Michael Bay archetypes both previous films had. If you sat through the previous two Transformers films, you may as well see this one to round off the trilogy, but i'm not insisting you do so.


Tom_Film_Master said…
I can't say I am interested in these messy blockbusters. Maybe someday I'll give it a chance. Well written review!
James Rodrigues said…
@Tom_Film_Master They're better watched with the brain turned off, it won't stop you from being critical, but it'll lessen the blow a bit
Myerla said…
No thanks...

The rating seems rather generous compared to the review. I guess the huge battle sequence swayed it? If you want to see a great battle sequence see 13 Assassins

The running time is why I hate these films, not what they are (ok it’s a little that) but if they were 90 mins long I might enjoy them.

What I find a tad annoying is people saying Megan Fox's acting skills do not matter because she is hot. However there are many more attractive women who CAN act.
HarleyQuinn said…
I didn't mind the first film, but I LOATHED Transformers 2. I'll probably end up seeing this anyway just for series completion. excellent review James!
James Rodrigues said…
@Myerla The huge battle at the end DID sway the rating indeed, and I feel like I should check out 13 Assassins. And I know, Michael Bay should take notes that there are hot women who can actually act

@HarleyQuinn don't worry, this is better than rotf
H.A.K. said…
Good review. However, I disagree with saying Huntington-Whiteley is worse. I mean she's smarter, she actually, roughly became the reason Sentinel and Megatron are dead, she screams in horror at the sight of Brains or Wheelie while Mikaela let's one of them hump her leg. Not to mention that after the first hour of the movie, she was much less of a sex symbol to the point that there was no cleft on her chest any bigger than your thumb.
James Rodrigues said…
When I said Huntington-Whiteley was worse, I meant as an actress, as opposed to the actual character she played. I agree, she's a better character, nut a worse actress.