Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Peter Cullen (voice), Hugo Weaving (voice), Leonard Nimoy (voice), Alan Tudyk
Written by Ehren Krueger
About 45 minutes into Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Optimus Prime, newly reunited with his mentor, Sentinel Prime, rolls up in some desert area. They have an engine to engine talk, and renew their respect for one another with what can only be described as “Prime” speak. Grand words, lofty aspirations, painful recollections…you know the type. Meanwhile, back in the city, Shia LaBeouf’s Sam is piecing things together, realizing that this story’s events revolve around Sentinel. Once he convinces the human in charge (McDormand, walking the line between Turturro and oblivion) that they must recall Sentinal to home base. Now, for some reason, Sentinel, traveling as fast as possible between there and here with a few Autobots in tow, is 10 minutes ahead from Optimus. Why is this? Because they need to an action sequence where Optimus arrives late. The same thing happened the opposite way in Revenge of the Fallen, and we know how that fight ended.
This was one of few complaints in the first hour of Dark of the Moon. Playing more like an investigative thriller than as a movie about alien robots, Shia takes creative license to use his physical and comic skills. John Turturro and his new employee, Dutch, played by Tudyk add delightful goofiness. It’s not always successful. Ken Leung’s sequence at Sam’s workplace is incredibly awkward. Overall, though, Bay makes a wise decision to not inundate with the special effects too soon. Perhaps, build tension a bit. Perhaps.
For the next 1:15, there is a frenzy of action and leaps in logic which can only be attributed to bad writing, bad editing or both. I was a little concerned when I discovered that Orci and Kurtzman had not been retained. Orci supposedly believed that their style would risk getting stale. Not as stale as having just one writer to bounce things off: the thoughts don’t bounce very far. Dark of the Moon has its moments of ingenuity, such as the development of Tudyk’s Dutch, along with the addition of an outright human bad guy and another tiny Transformer to go with Wheelie, named Brains. The plot is quite predictable otherwise, and the girl who replaced Megan Fox is really the same character, but with an Australian accent. It wasn’t Kruger’s fault Fox called Bay Hitler, thereby incurring the wrath of mogul Spielberg. He could have done more than a couple of lines of re-writes, though.
Of course, when it comes to objectification of women, no one can beat Michael Bay. His, “let’s just get this one out-of-the-way” shot for Huntington-Whiteley’s Carly Spencer, starts with the time the camera first hits the Victoria’s Secret model. The first thing we see is her ass, in underwear. Great. Other times throughout the film, the camera will linger on Spencer when she seems lost in thought, often during the middle of a massive robot attack. The camera turns to slow motion, the soundtrack ramps up, her lips glisten in the sun. That doesn’t slow things down…not at all.
The last hour was promised to be incessant action, among the best things Bay had ever done. If this is his Citizen Kane, it is appropriately choppy, non-sensical, filled with loud noises and frequent updates of game changers that occurred off-screen. I kept waiting for tense moments to occur, and I realized that once the buildings of Chicago had been given a severe beating prior to the final firefight, there was no more chance of that. Many people are obliterated during this time, just for the hell of it, in typical Bay/Megatron fashion. These deaths are given a song on the soundtrack, eventually, but I get no sense of anything but exasperation. When is it too much?
Megatron, however, is nowhere to be found through most of this. The supposed architect of this madness spends much of the movie injured and sulking. In a movie series where Transformers are literally able to morph themselves into anything at a moment’s notice, he is still showing the scars from the last movie. Literally missing half of his face, his vehicle is now looking like something out of The Road Warrior, and he never seems to enjoy a single moment, even when things are going his way. Why is this? He must have read ahead to the end of the script.
The special effects, while seemingly remarkable, have little in the way of logic. There is a burrowing worm type of Decepticon that eats its way through anything, literally works its way through a building that is already leaning at a 45 degree angle. Half of it falls on top of an older building, which supports the weight with no problems, as the worm continues eating. Right.
Dark of the Moon, will be the end of the current series of these films. I am pretty sure there will be reboots, where they will “re-imagine” the series with a new director and recycled characters. The same asses will be in the seats, though. Like mine.
(** out of *****)