Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review
Dinah's Rating: 6.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 5.9/10
(6 reviews total)
Michael Bay has expanded his final Transformers movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon,
to 2.5 hours. Those extra minutes include the introduction of a half dozen new human characters, twice as many unnamed Decepticons, and meandering human drama and backstory. Although it drops many of the issues of the previous sequel, it picks up quite a few issues of its own. So the final result is mediocre. “Dark of the Moon” never rises to the level of greatness you keep hoping for. It’s just good.
So here is the story: The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets. That isn’t much to go on, but the story is not what makes a Transformers movie, and frankly that is not even half of what takes place in this movie. That is more of a plot contrivance to keep the drama and action moving along. And there isn’t enough action in this equation because of the insufferable footage wasted on humans.
First and foremost I have to eat crow for the second time this week. I roasted Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and her open mouth for the past three months and lambasted her acting skills and part in this movie with venom. It turns out she really isn’t that bad of an actress. As Carly, she is poised, charming, and far less annoyingly distressed as your average damsel in these types of movies. Her relationship, portrayed as a smoldering love affair, falls flat however. Looking at her, regal, polished, and sexy, opposite a goofy, useless Shia LeBeouf as Sam Witwicky is laughable. Yes, he plays his part well, but he simply isn’t likeable as a hero or as an actor. His motivation is his love for Carly which the audience won’t care about at all since they have as much chemistry as a mouse and an elephant.
Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson are tossed into the fray with a tad more lines than the last film. New additions Frances McDormand as government liaison Mearing, John Malkovich as Sam’s boss Bruce Brazos, and Patrick Dempsey as Dylan are welcomed additions though they add little by way of entertainment. It is actually Ken Jeong as Jerry Wang and Alan Tudyk as Dutch who have the most hilarious comic moments in the film. Jeong is every bit himself; he might as well have made a cameo. The character Dutch had the audience near tears in a shootout with the Russians. But this movie is not supposed to be a comedy about humans – it’s about the bots.
The actual robots in disguise simply take a backseat once again to human drama, and that was the problem with “Revenge of the Fallen.” It seems the creators did not want to change that foul aspect. The first hour and a half of the movie is light on action, followed by a final hour of wall-to-wall, robot-on-robot violence. The humans jump in with bumbling attempts to help but end up getting killed or needing to be saved. It was shocking to see so many Decepticons introduced in the trailers only to die in rather abrupt and boring ways. Optimus Prime is awesome; Shockwave looks great but he comes and goes so quickly you’ll wonder why he was put in the trailers. Put Megatron in the same boat as his usual prominence is substituted for Sentinel Prime, Optimus’ mentor.
Also prominent is the 3D, which is worth the price of admission. Still, I have the distinct feeling that this movie would have been more exciting in 3D in the hands of a director like Zack Snyder. Some people may find his style overdone, but “Transformers” could have used more slow motion and fast motion. Snyder knows how to milk action giving a viewer every angle of his creation, laboring over it like a last delicious morsel of food. Bay just screams through jumbling his bots together such that no one knows one from another. And, although the score in the latter half of the film was pulse pounding, Snyder could have one-upped Bay any day. The editing sometimes enhanced the mood but often times it felt thrown together. Bay opened the film with an awesome sequence and camerawork only to debase himself throughout the rest of the film with clunky movement.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is good; it just isn’t the great movie audiences are hoping for. The human interaction is cliché, overdrawn, and lacks chemistry. The tension between the Autobots and Decepticons takes a backseat to Sam Witwicky and his tomfoolery once again. Let’s hope this franchise is continued, at the helm of a new writer and a more creative director.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, John Turturro, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Steven thought: "Redemption, it seems, would be a good way of categorizing “Dark of the Moon.” It’s hardly the disaster its predecessor was, but it’s also hardly what most would classify as “good.” Fortunately, it has plenty of (thoughtful) satisfying action with enough traction for us to actually give a damn about what happens on screen. Bay and 3D seem like a perfect marriage of auteur and medium. Only he and other style-first types could imagine an action sequence worthy of capturing in 3D without intentionally making stuff fly out toward the audience. The “Transformers” series has only ever been as good as its paint job, and the look of “Dark of the Moon” is crisper and cleaner than “Fallen.” Yet some problems from "Fallen" transfer here too: too many humans, too many bots and that awful sense of humor (even though a few jokes hit very well).
So maybe Michael Bay is just a stubborn old filmmaker who knows what he likes, but one gets the sense with “Dark of the Moon” that he sharpened up a bit to make sure this film didn’t outrage the fan base. Some filmmakers whose movies make $900-some million take that as creative license to make edgier projects, but in Bay’s case, he makes it more how he likes it: big, loud, slick and sexy. Bay's upped the emotional and visual stakes to create an engaging feat of blockbuster. Although some of his contemporaries would have us believe that explosions and fighting should come with a side of philosophical sermon, Bay reminds us that there’s value in wowing an audience and that doing so requires talent, even if that talent rates behind great storytelling." Rating: 6.5/10
Julian thought: "Thankfully, “Dark of the Moon” makes for a worthwhile follow-up that helps us to rid our mouths of the bad tasted left by “Revenge of the Fallen.” The film definitely improves on the plot factor of its predecessor by actually, you know, having a plot. What’s more, that plot moves into certain areas that one might not expect. Legitimately shocking twists and turns in the story and a genuinely gripping conflict provide an urgency that the previous films in the franchise didn’t have. McDormand makes something truly memorable of her stock role, and Huntington-Whiteley is actually impressive in this debut. Hopefully we’ll be seeing much more of her on the silver screen in the future. LaBeouf capably portrays our story’s main protagonist, while Duhamel, Turturro, and Tyrese make decent returns to their respective roles. John Malkovich also impresses in a very small role that almost classifies as a cameo. The only true complaint about the acting here goes to Ken Jeong. His mere presence is apparently meant to instill laughter now, and while he tries to make something of the role, Michael Bay leads him in an unfortunately pathetic direction. The love story, despite being a bit overdone at points, is never completely overbearing as it is with some action features, and the action in the film is extraordinary and never gets carried away. The visuals in the film are also an improvement, as the actions and movements of the robots are far clearer than in previous installments." Rating: 7/10
Max thought: "After the mess that was "Revenge of the Fallen," how could they possibly do worse? Thankfully, "Dark of the Moon" does not go deeper into that pit of despair, but it still doesn't make it the "Transformers" movie we've truly been hoping for. Regrettably, Bay still finds his leading man Shia LaBeouf funny, when more and more he comes off as, well, a bad word I won't put into print. One (and his on-onscreen mother) questions how he keeps getting hot women to fall for him; thankfully Rosie Huntington-Whiteley comes off a lot nicer and (dare I say) smarter than Megan Fox. (Big stretch, I know.) When we finally do get to the bots themselves ... what's to say? It's more of the last two movies. They're there, but consistently seem to play second fiddle to humans that are not even interesting to listen to, let alone watch in combat. One brief scene stands out as Laserbeak assassinates a family, done in a style that's oddly promising and then it's gone. Like a flash of greatness in the middle of a very mediocre film. The only bots we get any sense of are Optimus Prime (duh), his mentor Sentinal Prime (yawn) and Megatron, who yet again poses no serious threat to anyone—yet hordes of Decepticons keep following him. So much wrong in the movie, but it is all saved by the action: "Dark of the Moon" is the first live-action film to come along in a long time that warrants a 3-D admission. The climax in Chicago is fantastic and shows off even more of what 3D can do in the right way. Still, you have to wade through a lot of inane and just plain dumb dialogue to get to that action and at the cost of 2.5 hours of your life ... it might not be worth it just for the escapist element that comes with summer blockbusters." Rating: 5/10
Simon thought: "'Yack yack yack' and not enough 'boom boom boom' is not something we should experience from a “Transformers” movie, let alone one directed by Michael Bay, but for the first hour that’s pretty much all we get. Not until the siege of Chicago does the lead fly heavily enough to be palatable but even nearing the end of that sequence, Sam and his robo buddies have outstayed their welcome. “Dark of the Moon” is a significantly better entry than the borderline unwatchable second installment, but is still unable to recapture the goofy fun of the debut entry. CGI is now so mainstream in blockbuster fair it really only comes to our attention when it is poorly done, so let me give some props to the team who integrates flawless computer animation with old-school pyrotechnics and stunt work. The Coen Brothers must have had something to do with this production as three of their frequent collaborators — John Malcovich, John Turturro and Frances McDormand — make appearances and do manage to class up the joint to some effect. Toss in some clever tie-ins to real world events and locales and you get passable, if a little tired, summer fun." Rating: 5.5/10
Kieran thought: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon
is a million times better then Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,
but what is zero times a million? Since Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf have disowned “Revenge of the Fallen,” “Dark of the Moon” needed to be an improvement. Obvious areas of improvement are that the Autobots are more recognizable, the plot is more focused, greater action and the tone is much better judged. But there are still a lot of problems: Bay still relies on stereotypical characters, his movies are too long and the worst crime of all, he focuses on the humans! I don’t care about the bloody humans! Mr. Bay a tip, two giant robots fighting is awesome, two humans having a fist fight, not quite as awesome. The 3D worked best when the action was in slow motion, otherwise it was pointless. And Rosie Huntington-Whitley is not that bad, but she only had to compete against Megan Fox." Rating: 5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 5.9/10