Why are they still making these movies? If you even think of coming back at me with, “Because they make money,” you no longer have permission to read my reviews. Even escapist movies that require no thought and have no message to send deserve good characters and decent dialogue, and they should at the very least be entertaining. Is that really so hard? For Michael Bay and his crew, especially his screenwriters, the answer is apparently yes. The first two Transformers movies were feature-length marketing gimmicks that did nothing but assault the eyes and deaden the imagination. Given this track record, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is no different. Sadly, not being surprised doesn’t make the experience of watching it any easier.
This third installment of the hugely successful franchise is loud, aggressive, lengthy, and dumb. If there is a just and loving God, it will be the last installment. Its plot a confusing mess of government conspiracies, alien invasions, alliances, betrayals, and double crossings, which is to say that no potential audience is likely to make heads or tails of what the hell is going on. The characters are so broadly drawn that they belong in a parody. The dialogue sounds like it was written by potty-mouthed fifteen-year-old computer geeks. The action sequences don’t stimulate the senses so much as rape them; by the end of the movie, my ears felt like they on the verge of bleeding, and my eyes were sore from the 3D effects and the overuse of lightning-quick cuts, slow motion blurs, and computerized imagery, most of which consists of morphing machinery. Man, does that get tiresome.
Much of the cast returns from the previous two films, including Shia LaBeouf, John Turturro, Peter Cullen, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, Julie White, and Kevin Dunn. The only notable exception is Megan Fox, who was said to be unhappy with Bay’s work ethic and reportedly compared him to Hitler. As to whether or not this actually happened, as to whether this was a case of her being asked to not return or her choosing to leave, I obviously have no way of knowing. What I do know is that, regardless of the circumstances, this was one of the best things that could have happened to her; she no longer has to associate herself with this awful franchise, which may go down as one of the worst in cinematic history. New to the film are Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Frances McDormand, Leonard Nimoy, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who steps in as LaBeouf’s new girlfriend. Too bad she’s not given anything to do besides look pretty.
The plot, as it were, involves the revelation that, back in 1961, an escaped ship from the war-ravaged Transformer planet crash landed on Earth’s moon, and that the 1969 moon landing was actually a mission to collect samples from the ship. In the present day, the benevolent Autobot Optimus Prime (voiced by Cullen) is disheartened when he learns that a piece of their recovered technology is in the hands of the Ukrainian government, and that the Soviets’ attempts to harness its power resulted in the Chernobyl disaster. Although he and the rest of the Autobots are in league with the American government, he now realizes that humans are not as trustworthy as they once seemed, so he takes it upon himself to fly to the moon and retrieve the dormant pilot of the crashed ship, Sentinel Prime (voiced by Nimoy). He also collects a series of metal rods called Pillars, which, apparently, can create a wormhole capable of transporting matter across the universe.
Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) has graduated from college but is unable to find work, much to the chagrin of his incredibly annoying parents (Dunn and White). He has a hot new English girlfriend named Carly (Whiteley), who works for a man named Dylan (Dempsey), a wealthy playboy with a sizeable car collection. A threat in all respects. Just as Sam gets a new job in the mailroom of an office building, he reteams with retired agent Seymour Simmons (Turturro) when he begins to suspect that the evil Decepticons are systematically targeting people who were involved with both the American and Russian space missions. This leads to the introduction of the bitchy Secretary of Defense (McDormand), which then leads to a series of other revelations before a final battle/destruction scene in Chicago that goes on and on and on and on and on. At a certain point, I was actually praying for the movie to come to an end.
Much of Transformers: Dark of the Moon is made worse by Bay’s curious practice of inserting jokes into scenes that don’t call for them. Perhaps the issue is that Bay wouldn’t know funny even if he got a pie in the face before slipping on a banana peel. Somehow, I just can’t laugh at a robot life form from another planet saying, “This is a clusterf–.” No, I didn’t just censor myself; the scene was edited so that it would cut away at the exact right moment. Many of the actors – including Malkovich, Jeong, and McDormand – deliver their lines as if they were unsure of their purpose in the movie. Indeed, they contribute next to nothing, apart from unnecessary comedy relief. Jeong in particular does little more than embarrass himself. Thank God he has such little screen time. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my feelings for this movie abundantly clear.
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