Transformers: Dark of the Moon (3D)

2011-07-11 09:59
 
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
What it's about:

Following on from the first two films, Transformers: Dark of the Moon picks up with the Autobots living a peaceful existence with their human hosts, but that peace is soon shattered when the Decepticons launch their most devastating attack yet, involving an old Autobot ship that crash-landed on our moon decades ago.

What we thought:

Never having been what you might call a fan of director Michael Bay, I gave his first two Transformers films a very wide berth – avoiding them even as they replayed endlessly on DStv. That is, until a few days ago when I realised I needed to review Bay's latest entry into the franchise for this here publication and it would certainly not do to take on the third instalment of a beloved-by-many franchise without at least giving the first two a fair chance. Unsurprisingly, two atrocious films and five never-ending hours later, I emerged from my Bay-induced stupor, dreading the third film more than ever.

I may be damning it with faint praise by calling it the best film by far in the series but it does stand head and shoulders above the first two films. But that means very little: even if it Bay's best film since the first half of The Island, it was still a mind-and-bum-numbing experience that became more and more insufferable as it went on.

The opening parts of the film, though, really surprised me. I can't tell you if these bits lasted five minutes or five days, of course, because time and space lose all sense of meaning in a Michael Bay film, but not only did these initial moments of Transformers: Dark of the Moon not actively suck, they managed to be fairly enjoyable. Oh, sure, some of the dialogue was still groan-inducing and, yes, it was mostly unoriginal and full of Bay's trademark bloat but, not only did we have some fun moments with actors who are clearly far, far better than this sort of thing (Alan Tudyk, John Turtrurro, John Malkovich and - as one of the few actresses in a Michael Bay movie to act as more than eye-candy - Frances McDormand), but there was even a halfway decent alien-invasion story to be found. The parts where it mixed Transformers lore and real-world American history were particularly well handled, hinting even at genuine intelligence and creativity.

The problem, though, is that this being a Michael Bay movie, that stuff is bound to fall by the wayside sooner or later. Michael Bay is not a director who cares about storytelling and he certainly doesn't care about actors, and even less about characters. Bay is all about ogling impossibly beautiful women and shiny cars and making a huge, deafening racket, while filling up the screen with as much (admittedly good) CGI as is humanly possible.

It's like Bay was afraid that the first parts of the film might show him to be a director of at least some, albeit limited, substance so he filled the remainder with all the Michael Bay guff that fans and critics have come to expect/dread from the man.

There are some decent action scenes to be found and Leonard Nimoy voicing a giant robot riffing on Spock's unforgettable farewell speech in Star Trek II will provide at least some delight for fans of classic Trek (Nimoy's presence is easily one of the film's best points) but all of it disappears into the tedious, cacophonous sludge of Bay's worse tendencies.

Most of the film's best actors and most enjoyable characters (not to mention a handful of subplots) are shunted off to the side, being either forgotten entirely or stuck literally watching the action from the sidelines as the film returns its focus to Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky for its final hour(s). LaBeouf may be better here than he was in previous films but even he and his ridiculously hot girlfriend (supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who replaced Megan Fox) are unable to draw any attention away from the fact that, for all their crash-bang-wollop mayhem, these supposedly climactic battles bore rather than thrill.

Bay's lack of restraint and tendency to film every single set piece the same way (huge objects smashing into each other, gigantic explosions, alternating shaky cam and slow motion, rinse and repeat) make him one of the least engaging action directors of all time, as well as one of the worst storytellers in the business. Transformers: Dark of the Moon does little to disprove that.

Fans of the Transformers series will probably love this and the press have clearly had a field day with the non-story of Megan Fox not being involved in this instalment but, for everyone else, even if Transformers 3 is a far better option than its predecessors, I'm afraid we're going to have to get our sci-fi blockbuster kicks elsewhere.


It may be the best instalment in the Transformers franchise yet, but Michael Bay's heavy-handedness with CGI, explosions and an eye candy cast, ensures that this doesn't really mean much at all.

Aaron 2011/07/01 8:01 AM
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Dude thats way too heavy.Despite what you thought of Transformers,the first 2 movies grossed Billions and entertained Millions of fans worldwide.People love it and it appeals to a wide audience.Who cares what you think really?If you aren't getting some go find something else to b*tch about.Transformers Rocks!
Charmedheksie 2011/07/01 10:06 AM
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I don't what movie you went to watch but I went to see a movie where stuff got blown up, shiney cars, alien robots fighting and the world being saved. And that is what I got when me and my man went to watch it. Also your view was biased from the start as you stated that you don't like Michael Bay so your review is worth less than nothing as your opinion was already formed before you even watched the movie. I give it 4 for being fun I took a star because Patrick Dempsey did not convince me that he is a bad guy, but more of a spineless little sissyboy John Malkovich was more scary and a little bit demented.
Luigi 2011/07/01 12:07 PM
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Michael Bay used to make cool films like The Rock and Bad Boys. Now his boring, stupid, humourless films are everything wrong with Hollywood today. I love action films if they give me a reason to care about the action - otherwise, it's just noise with no meaning. You may as well watch two hours of trailers for all the sense this idiotic movie makes.
joslin 2011/07/04 11:05 AM
seen the movie on saturday-absolutly entertaining
joslin 2011/07/04 11:06 AM
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seen the movie on saturday-absolutly entertaining
joslin 2011/07/04 11:06 AM
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seen the movie on saturday-absolutly entertaining
joslin 2011/07/04 11:06 AM
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seen the movie on saturday-absolutly entertaining
Tam 2011/07/04 2:19 PM
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the movie might not win any oscars for script or acting, but if an oscar were given for entertainment vaule - this would win hands down!!
JoshuaDoor 2011/07/04 3:26 PM
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Rubbish movie, made for idiots.
Steve 2011/07/05 7:53 AM
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I can suspend logic and believe in an alien race of machines attacking our planet. I can't however, believe that a tiny, irritating, whining loser like the character played by Shia Le Bouf could land up with girls like Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Megan Fox
Racks 2011/07/05 1:17 PM
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Awesome movie - great sequel
li 2011/07/06 9:56 AM
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Excellent Review, Sums up the movie perfectly, yes it was better than the previous movies but tooo much smashing, bashing, clanging to the point where you end up leaving the movie with a bad a case of Metal Fatigue!!!
MrMM 2011/07/12 10:49 AM
Clearly you were biased to the movie from the get go, not all movies can be heart wrenching, tear jeakers that rope in tons of oscars also not everyone enjoys that, people watch movies for different reasons and on a night out at the cinema I do want to watch big robot aliens kicking the crap out of each other purely coz I dont see the need to go to the big screen to watch a drama, big screens are for action, explositions, thrills and excitement, and this movie delivered that perfectly. So rather go review beautiful mind or or black swan or something like that coz that appears to be what u enjoy and no one can take that from u,
Bless' 2011/07/12 11:46 AM
Guys I haven't watched the movie yet, wot awesome scenes to look out for ?
Shaun - Cape Town 2011/07/12 9:14 PM
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6-Stars, Excellent! - Cheers
Muse Betty 2011/07/13 12:36 PM
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Terrible film that only 10-year old boys could love. Utter trash.
Karen 2011/07/14 11:30 AM
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I LOVED the movie and so did my 5 year old son; I thought the review missed the point of the movie - ENTERTAINMENT! I think the reviewer is trying to be a ART MOVIE critic, get over yourself!
Optimus Prime 2011/07/15 9:36 AM
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Dearest Ilan Just because Micheal Bay thinks extra-ordinarily out of the box for a movie and his perspective is more out of this world than most, that does not warrant somewhat degrading commentary like yours of the man's ability, genius and creativity. Do you understand the aspects it takes to make, produce and comprehend movies of such magnitude? Where's the facts & research in your commentary which would make your comments true for a movie critic? He's taken a Japanese classic and turned it into a present day world-wide phenomenon loved and appreciated by many! A little respect is deserved! All hail Micheal Bay's Transformers!
Stev Q 2011/07/15 11:45 AM
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Dude u got some issues... If you had watched the cartoons, u'd have known that this movie ain't supposed to make u cry... this ain't Titanic. And when u wanna do a review, try talking about the movie instead of the director, u not reviewing the director here. Can u recall who directed the second Godfather? and do u need to know who did it before u review the movie? Don't expose ur name and go public if u know u going out there to do such a lame job. Of all the cartoons-gone-movies you know, how many have come that close to giving you the same feeling? the very first one was already very good when it came out, and if the guy can still top that today, then learn how to analyze the effort. It's quite irritating to imagine that a review would be so one-sided and biased. U should get a job as a promoter... U suck at being impartial.
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