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Review | Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

Director Michael Bay’s latest “robots in disguise” opus opens with the 1969 Apollo 11 mission and mankind’s first steps on the Moon. Unbeknown to humanity, however, the mechanized alien race of Transformers arrived long before, and the technology it left behind is what drives the action in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

The first Transformers film was a funny, playful take on the “boy and his robot” genre, but this installment of the blockbuster franchise has a darker, angrier spirit. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), former savior of humanity and recent Ivy League graduate, can’t find a job. His super-hot ex-girlfriend has moved on, and even his best robot buddy Bumblebee can’t spend any time with him because he’s too busy protecting the Earth. Luckily for the male demographic, though, Sam finds a new super-hot, and super-rich, girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) to help him fend off the latest Decepticon plot to enslave humanity.

Certainly the most seamless use of 3D and computer-generated effects in a summer blockbuster so far, the robotic transformation and battle sequences in Dark of the Moon are jaw-dropping. Realistic CGI blends with the actors and the environment, moving the technology forward by leaps and bounds.

The casting for Dark of the Moon is just as impressive and over the top as the effects. Leonard Nimoy lends both his sci-fi cred and his vocal talents to the awesome new Autobot Sentinel Prime. John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, RED), Ken Jeong (The Hangover) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly) each turn in quirky, scenery-chewing performances, while Frances McDormand (Fargo) and franchise veteran John Turturro loom nearly as large as their Transformers co-stars.

The film could certainly have benefited from 45 minutes of judicious editing – there’s so much action and gear-grinding madness that, as impressive as many sequences are, they go on for entirely too long.

In one epic scene near the movie’s climax, Sam, Carly and a team of soldiers stalk through the streets of a war-torn Chicago. Behind them, the city is aflame and hundreds of sheets of paper float about the landscape. It’s a beautiful shot meant to sell an intense alien apocalypse, but because the film clocks in at a staggering two and a half hours, battle-fatigued audience members might easily mistake those billowing reams for the shooting script, thrown into the air by an equally exhausted cast and crew.

Nobody could accuse Bay of not trying hard to make up for Revenge of the Fallen, the much-criticized second film in the series, but Dark of the Moon tries too hard. In fact, it throws everything, quite beautifully, at the screen in an effort to please the audience.

But, in the same way that great symphonies make use of silence and transitions, the best action movies are those that find places of quiet reflection to build tension and drive up the stakes. Unfortunately, there is no modulation in Dark of the Moon; nearly every line of dialogue is shouted. Consequently, characters don’t get the chance to arc in the film because they’re too busy running in place for 150 minutes.

To be fair, Dark of the Moon is a visually stunning film that pulls out all the stops to entertain — no matter what the cost. Unfortunately, that cost didn’t include another pass at the script.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon opens today nationwide.


  • Big_Sexy_Kev

    Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is one of the worst actresses I have had the displeasure of viewing and is by far the worst aspect of this movie. How the standard of her performance escapes this review is boggling. 

  • Jacob

    “nearly every line of dialogue is shouted”

    Did we watch the same movie? The only time they were yelling was during the battles, which makes sense because of all the damn explosions going off around them.

  • Fury1978

    i freaking loved it. it was AWESOME.

  • Charles Smith

    I am not going to miss the HBO Premiere next summer.

  • Charles Smith

    Does it really matter how bad her performance is? She has two jobs: get males into the theater, and prove that Bey does not need Megan in his franchise.

  • Coryjameson

    This “movie” was a piece of garbage. Unfortunately, as seen from some of the comments here there are more and more aggressively stupid people coming into existence every year and the revenue this movie makes will reflect that. It’s sad really because Hollywood will be encouraged to pander to these morons. Movies like Mr. Bay’s will crowd out other infinitely more deserving movie ideas.

    And people wonder why America is the state it’s in.

  • Wyatt Samuel K

    Clearly we need your judgmental negativism to save us.

    Also, since you watched the movie (gave Hollywood your money for it), aren’t you partially to blame for its continued existence and the proliferation of its kind?  In essence, you are the ‘moron’ (your word, not mine) that Hollywood is ‘pandering’ to.

  • Dave

    You saw it, seeing as you know it’s “a piece of garbage.’ So are you among the “aggressively stupid,” as well?

  • Smith

    This movie (despite it’s flaws) is far superior to the last 2, especially the Transformer’s dialogue and characterisation. The only bad things are  the horrible jokes and John Malchovich (it’s not him persay the writers keep making him a joke then need be), the dumbest parts are when shia has to scream at everyone (so would i in that position, but i’d be more manly about it) or the stupid ‘think they’re witty one liners, The Transformer characters are more interesting this time around but someone said what i always thought since Transformers 2 “why do only decepticons get the good shit?!”

  • Big_Sexy_Kev

    Robots fighting robots is enough to get males (especially me!) into the cinema. More than a tad misogynistic to use a woman solely for the purposes of being leered at (she appears to have no other purpose in this movie). But hey, bros won’t go to see a film unless their penis is pointing them towards it!

    Rosie has one job ahead of all of what you have listed – to act, and in this she fails badly. Even in attempting to exude sexiness she fails. Unable to display any tangible emotion she comes across as hollow, as just another another special effect. Wheel her on, wheel her off, get out the puncture repair kit so the blow up doll is ready for its next scene. She’s an even bigger charisma vacuum than Shia LaBeouf. 

    At least Fox has some screen presence (alongside hypnotically odd thumbs), could act to a reasonable extent and came across as actually being a human, not just a sex bot. When your lead actress distracts from the racist stereotype robots and overlong final action sequence as the biggest criticism then by heck you have miscast in a big, bad, bold way.

  • Big_Sexy_Kev

    I agree in that it is not a good example of Popcorn movie making. Hollywood should be upping the bar at more than just SFX in Summer movies (especially when kids are part of the target market) and not racing to lower the lowest common denominator of the audience through pornogrification, misogyny and crass stereotyping (Ghetto robots and an Oirish robot that appears to be constantly intoxicated? How the heck does that even work). 

    Robots battling robots, a concept that seems so hard to screw up in theory is made possible by Michael Bay. And I stand by my earlier point that despite all this, Rosie Huntington-Whitely is the worst thing in the movie. That is remarkable in itself.

  • Big_Sexy_Kev

    I think it is the reaction to it that matters in this instance. Seeing is believing rather than assuming.