Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review—Michael Bay Ends the Trilogy with (Multiple) Bangs

The Basics:

In the year 1961, a mysterious ship lands on the dark side of the Moon.  The US, after detecting the crashed ship, launches a space campaign to get man on the moon in hopes of exploring the wreckage.  The crew of the Apollo 11 discover the ship, but no sentient being aboard.  60 years later, Sam Witwicky finds himself jobless after graduating college, being kept afloat by his new girlfriend and her lofty job.  Sam finally lands a job in the mail room of a large business, and is passed along secret information concerning the “dark of the moon” and his Transformer friends by a crazed co-worker.  Sam soon finds himself at the center of (another) Decepticon attack, once again spearheaded by the villainous Megatron.  Joining forces with both the US Military Forces and the Autobots, Sam fights to survive as the world is soon overrun by the Decipticons.

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and Patrick Dempsey

Written By: Ehren Kruger

Directed By: Michael Bay

Original Release Date: June 29, 2011


The Delivery:

What surprised me most about Transformers: Dark of the Moon is how little was changed from the previous installments.  Yes, almost everything we know and hated from the original and Revenge of the Fallen are back this time around.  The annoying parents, the humping robots, the bad jokes, the over abundance of goofy side characters, and the sometimes lame dialogue is once again back for a third drive in the Transformers car.  Heck, all we needed was Megan Fox, the racists twins, and the annoying roommate and it would be like nothing had ever changed.  In that respect, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is just as bad as Revenge of the Fallen. But how is it then that, despite my best efforts, I would still call this the best in the franchise?  One word.

Action.  Boy oh boy, does the action freaking deliver.  If Bay learned one thing from the previous iterations in the series, it’s this; people want to see things go BOOM, and that’s all they want to see.  Or maybe Bay didn’t learn anything at all; maybe he just felt that he should end the trilogy with a bang.  Whatever the case, the last hour of this film is insane.  The invasion of Chicago is not only visually stunning, but technically masterful.  I’ve always stood up for Bay  by saying, despite his many many shortcomings, he knows how to direct an action scene.  And in this age in cinema, you would be surprised how talented a skill that is.

Sam, Carley, and Epps

I think half the reason Bay can shot action as well as he can is his sense of style and scale, two very important things in the world of action movie filmmaking.  None of the action looks drab or lazy, like in Terminator: Salvation. The visuals are bright and vibrant, even in the darkest of situations.  This is also one of the few films I can say benefited from 3D.  If you’re going to see this movie, see it on the big screen in 3D.  If anything, the visual spectacle is enough to justify the price of admission alone.

Dark of the Moon also has a great sense of scale, something that was definitely missing from Revenge of the Fallen. Building crumbles, civilians die, city blocks are decimated in the blink of an eye.  Revenge of the Fallen had a bunch of ancient and crumbling walls fall down.  Seeing the city of Chicago get destroyed is certainly more exciting than seeing sand being tossed in the air.  My hands down favorite scene of the film, featured heavily in the trailer, is a scene in which Trump Tower is brutally taken down by the Decipticon Shockwave.  The sense of scale is amazing, and I’m sure that scene cost 10s of millions of dollars to film alone.

Shia and Rosie

Also good is the robot to robot fighting, which there is more of than in the first two films.  To put it lightly, the last hour is a freaking warzone, with Decipticons and Autobots killing each other almost every two minutes.  Optimus Prime, the best part of the first two films, returns, dual wielded swords, battle axes, and jetpack at the ready.  When I thought Optimus couldn’t be more awesome, he became more awesome.  Maybe it’s Peter Cullen’s terrific voice work, but I found myself falling in love with Optimus Prime all over again.  Also Bumblebee, that lovable ol’ coot, is once again a very fun character.  There were other characters too, but none of them really had a chance to shine.  Sadly, they got swallowed up along with all the other characters in Dark of the Moon.

To many characters, actually.  John Turturro returns, and is once again wasted as the goofy side character.  Also returning is our little humping robot friend who, along with his new companion, are annoying as hell.  John Malkovich also appears in the film for no reason other then the fact that he’s John Malkovich.  Seriously, he shows up in one scene, chews up the scenery, turns up again, plays with Bumblebee, and disappears for the rest of the film.  As you may know, Patrick Dempsey is also in this film, and his character is really, really stupid.  I won’t spoil why, but let’s just say his motivations are a bit…ludicrous.  And his allegiance, even more preposterous.  And what of Rosie-Huntington-Whiteley, who replaces Megan Fox as Sam’s love interest?  Well, her first scene begins with her butt jiggling in a really small pair of underwear as she climbs up stairs in a long T-shirt holding a stuffed rabbit.  I think that sums up her character perfectly.  She’s super hot (even hotter than Fox), but her acting is just as bad.

Shia Running

Finally, another character was introduced; a man named Jerry Wang.  He’s played by Ken Jeong.  And he’s one of the worst characters I’ve seen in a mainstream movie in years.  He has one scene, but boy does he make an impression.  His name is Wang, he’s Asian, and he’s Ken Jeong.  At one point, he pulls dual pistols out of his pockets and points them at the screen, saying ‘YEUH!” and smiling a huge grin.  I thought I was watching The Hangover: Part II, and I hated every moment of it.  Also, you might have noticed I’ve been saying “the last hour of Dark of the Moon” a lot.  That’s because the first hour and a half is long, tedious, features little to no action, and relies heavily on the stupid plot.  The last hour of pure action is what redeems this film and without it, this would be only slightly better than Revenge of the Fallen. But with the last hour, it not only rises above and beyond Fallen, but even the original itself.  Thank god for your action chops, Michael Bay.  We were almost in trouble there.


The Scorecard:

Acting-Umm…Shia screams a lot, and Rosie was hotter than hell.  I guess that covers the human department.  The voice acting was great though.

Direction-Bay’s talent for shooting action scenes is really what saves this film.  The last hour is an action tour de force, and begs to be seen.

Writing-The plot is ridiculous, and the dialogue doesn’t bode much better.  Ehren thinks he’s writing funny dialogue, but I’ll have to break his heart and tell him he’s not.

Sound-The theme is alright, but there’s really nothing else to the music.  Jablonsky apparently doesn’t mind stealing from his master though, because the Inception bwams were EVERYWHERE in this score.

Visuals-They’re pretty stunning, from the robots to the destroyed buildings, you can tell a lot of time and money were spent perfecting these visuals.  Also, it’s nice to see a film with good 3D again.  It’s been a while.


The critic in me and the action lover in me are at each other’s throats.  Well I really want to love Dark of the Moon for its action, I know that the major faults of the film are inexcusable.  With a bad script and bad acting, in no way is Transformers: Dark of the Moon a good film.  But for what it’s worth, it is a fun ride, and definitely the best of the Transformers franchise.  But what that means, however, doesn’t amount to very much.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Did you get a change to catch Transformers: Dark of the Moon over the weekend?  Tell us what you think in the Database!

Optimus Prime

Loose Thoughts:

Did I mention how gorgeous Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is in this film?  She should be a model or something!

-Leonard Nimoy was great as Sentinel Prime, but I wonder what happened to that retirement thing?  Eh, I guess voice acting doesn’t count.

-It’s nice to see the soldier characters not only have screen time again in this film, but also have something to do.  They were in Revenge of the Fallen for like what, five minutes?

-Sam’s parents return and, even though they are less annoying in this film, his mom brings up a good point; why the hell are all the hot women going after HIM?

-There’s a lot of plot holes in this film, but I’m not going to waste time on any of them.  Instead, I’ll point out more important things.


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