Monday, July 4, 2011

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon review

Cue the Explosions, we're reviewing Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon!

Did this in flash, not sure how successful it is.

I think everyone already knows whether or not they're going to see it. I've heard reviews saying it's the best one yet, and others saying it's just playing terrible.  My humble opinion, it's got amazing 3D action, but I literally went, "Wait, what?" every 15 minutes.

Dark of the Moon starts out explaining how Sentinel Prime(Leonard Nimoy)'s ship crash landed from Cybertron in the 60's, and how the space race was a cover-up to see what was up there. Then we're re-introduced to Sam Witwicky(Shia LaBeouf) who's living with his hot rich girlfriend Carly(Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and desperately trying to get a job.  Even though he's saved the world twice, he just can't seem to get his life together(CALLED IT).  The Autobots are busy tracking down terrorists and when they find a strange artifact at a test site, it triggers a race to find something that could have ended the Cybertronian war: The space bridge. Explosions ensue.

I've always viewed this franchise not as Transformers movies, but as Michael Bay alien invasion movies. It's Independence Day 2, but with aliens who occasionally act like robots. It's always been about the humans living with and beating back the evil aliens, and never been about the transformers. I think once I understood this and knew what I was going into, I was able to enjoy it more. Yes, the main plot has been taken from original G1 cartoons, and yes, they have more transformers from the cartoon now, but considering how much of it just doesn't add up, it won't be enjoyable to anyone who thinks too much.

I can't say I enjoyed any of the acting in this. just any of it.  It's as if while directing, Bay went, "No no no, you need to be MUCH more loud and annoying. And say your lines faster, we need to get back to the action!"Not robots fighting each other action mind you, humans doing stuff action.  The Transformers(the ones you want to see at least) only make up 25% of the movie, if that. I really wondered where they were most of the time.

But back to the acting and writing, everyone was just so annoying and over the top.  There were people I didn't hate, but no one I really liked.  I hated Frances McDormand's character with a passion, and not in a good way.  I kept wanting one of the transformers to squash her, and the only reason I can see they didn't is because the story called for her to keep on living.  They have Alan Turyk as John Turturro's assistant, but his character...I just fail to see any reason for it.  I actually like the idea of Sam not being able to find a job right after college(however much sense it doesn't make for his character); it mirrors what a large amount of us are going through. But through his constant freakouts I can't find myself liking him at all.

Whiteley is pretty much used as eye candy here. She's got the Meagon Fox patented "stare off with mouth gaping open" acting down. Other than a bit at the end with one of the main baddies(which like the rest of the movie, doesn't make sense), I don't really see her purpose. She's just there for the rest of the male cast ot go "yowza!" and that's it.  Bay does not know how to write complex characters. Everyone here is a stereotype, nothing new about the characters is learned, and no one grows. I wouldn't go so far as to say racist or sexist(just barely) but just stereotypical enough to make them unlikable.  That goes for Transformers as well as Humans.

If you didn't like Bay's designs then, well you probably won't like them now. Every time I wanted to like a transformer for his designs, he'd open his mouth and make me go, "Wait what?" again. Like most people have said, I really don't think Bay understands what a robot is.  He keeps trying to make them more human or animal like and add unnecessary fluids.  Seriously, what's all that red stuff leaking out of every robot? Why does Star Scream have more spit than Sylvester? Why does Dino(the cool red car with double swords) have a weird italian accent? Why does Sentinel Prime have Dread tentacles? Why do the wreckers have Aussie and scottish accents? Why do half of the Decepticons no transform at all and look like cats and have animal growls instead of dialogue?

The story is just nonsensical.  It's just used as a mechanism for more Bay action. Megatron's plan is convoluted and roundabout, and when one of the characters switches, it feels like it comes out of nowhere.  I couldn't understand anyone's motivation for doing anything, and all the world logic they set up clashes with logic from the other movies and other logic in this movie. Why are Sam and Carly even together? How does everyone know about robots but no one knows Sam is a hero? How was Tutorro's character able to profit but Sam wasn't? Why is the space bridge so important? How is it the Transformers have force or magnetic powers now?

Also I have to say the soundtrack and cinematography are completely obnoxious. Every time a pop song comes on ushering in a music video sequence(almost as bad as Sucker Punch), it took me out of the experience.  They're not even good songs. Are they popular songs? And he's adopted this weird style of fading in and out to black quickly as if it was a trailer. It's just jarring and I can't see the point of it. When the invasion finally starts, instead of having them slowly overtake the city, he does this and the ships are just suddenly there. It just feels cheap.

Having said ALLLLLLLL of that, there were parts I liked, and I generally enjoyed the action, when there was action.  Parts I liked: many of the transformers seem to have an in between mode in which they're semi-together and are able to drive and shoot at the same time. This looks really cool and reminds me of the some of the "alt modes" or "triple changers" in past toy designs. There's some nice car to robot to car again fight scenes, really hammering in that the Autobots use their alt modes in battle and aren't just a gimmick mode of hiding/transportation. Optimus actually has a trailer in this one, and not only that, it transforms into a badass weapons cache! At one point he says it contains his flight tech(the upgrade he got from Jetfire) but we never actually see him suit up, which is a shame. Hopefully we'll get to see it in the DVD.

The 3D looks amazing. This is where it's better than the green lantern, because you can see they actually put work into making the visuals and the visual experience pop. If you're going to see a movie in 3D, this is the movie to see. I'm almost curious about the 3D Imax.  Honestly the whole movie can be summed up with the infamous wing suit scene. What does this have to do with the actual transformers? Nothing. Is there a logical reason they're even doing this? not really. Could this whole thing be easily avoided with a simpler and more straightforward solution? Yes it could. Does it look awesome? Fuck yes it does.

I cannot encourage taking the kids to go see this. It's violent, profane, and the first five minutes after the flashback are dedicated Whiteley's ass. They say "shit" so many times in the course of the movie and each time I have no idea why. And the action is really brutal. Not just pew pew fire lasers fall down brutal, disintegrate a huge number of humans instantly brutal.  Shoot an Autobot in the back of the head execution style brutal. Optimus rips out a transformer's skull and spine ala Mortal Kombat brutal.  And this is going to be the toy of the year.

There were a mess of scenes I just didn't see the point of and the overall message seems to be a combination of "The meek shall inherent the earth" and "Marines! Hoorah!".  The 3D action is great but the story and plot is just utter shenanigans in trying to make sense. If you liked the first Transformers and generally enjoy Baytastic explosion films, you'll probably like this one.  If you were really hoping for an in depth and complex look at the Transformers' story, don't bother. I could probably watch this again to enjoy the good and laugh at the bad.

And for those of you who don't care about getting spoiled and were wondering about my predictions, I did fairly good.

Other Transformer reviews:

Movie Bob review
Movie Bob's fanboy free breakdown
Topless Robot's FAQ
Shortpacked! Review


  1. This is a great review! Well thought out, precise, and very detailed. Overall, did you like this movie or are you on the fence about it? You had good arguments for both the pros and cons.

  2. Thanks! Hmm, it's really hard to say because I can't say that I "liked" it, in that it was a good movie and I would want to give more money to it's creators, but I can say I enjoyed the experience. I might see it again with friends, but I wouldn't rush out to buy the DVD.