Transformers – Dark of the Moon Review

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

I’ll admit going into this review that I have a huge amount of nostalgia for the Transformers. The cartoon was the show of my childhood. This means that I’ve given the Michael Bay movies a bit of an easier time than I might have otherwise. While the movies have had plenty of problems (particularly the second one), they’ve been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.

While I’m sure a franchise that makes this much money won’t stay silent for long, Dark of the Moon feels like the team wanted to finish their trilogy in the best way they could. While the result isn’t perfect, this movie stands as a fairly solid action movie, and doesn’t have the rushed messy feeling that plagued Revenge of the Fallen.

One aspect that has seen significant improvement is the story. The opening hook is actually really interesting, putting a new spin on many of the developments in space travel over the 60’s. Buzz Aldrin actually makes a cameo here to give this angle a bit more weight. The rest of the story does a good job of throwing out various red herrings while building up to the inevitable invasion that we’ve all seen in the trailers. Unfortunately, the build up takes too long, and the movie sags a bit in the middle before picking up again in the explosive second half.

Those who have been complaining about not seeing enough of the Transformers in combat will be well pleased with the amount of action here. The invasion plays out well, and many of the blurry action problems that plagued the previous movies have been removed. While scenes do get a little busy at times, the action is generally well covered, and we know what’s going on though the problem of telling the different Transformers apart is unforunately still present. We can easily pick out the heroes, but everyone else is just cannon fodder. I think a little bit of colour here and there could have corrected this fairly easily. One pleasant surprise was that the 3D actually worked really well here, it never seemed to interfere with me keeping track of what was going on.

In terms of the human characters, everyone seems to be having a lot of fun here. Shia LaBouf is fairly comfortable in his role as Sam, and newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly is a massive improvement over Megan Fox (whom several jokes are made about). The couple actually felt like they had some chemistry, although there wasn’t that much depth to it. Unfortunately, the blatant lingering of the camera on Carly’s various features feels like a throwback to one of the worst aspects of Revenge of the Fallen and something that belonged in a Victoria’s Secret parade, but thankfully it only seems to happen for a few minutes after she is introduced.

The other characters are having a great time chewing the scenery with John Malkovich and Ken Jeong competing for the ham award. Frances McDormand seems to have embraced the silliness of the movies as well, and her scenes with John Torturro are a lot of fun. Alan Tudyk also deserves a special mention for a fantastic performance as Dutch, the German assitant with a mysterious past. The military characters have taken a bit of a back seat for this outing, the focus is more on the Transformers than the human forces.

Overall, if you are determined to hate all the Transformers movies than this one is hardly likely to change your mind. But taken on its merits it’s a farily decent movie, and I really enjoyed watching it. I’m probably going to catch a lot of flak from my screenwriting friends for liking it, but what the hell, I enjoy a good argument.

What I Liked – Interesting hook. Solid story. Much darker than the first two. Fun performances from Alan Tudyk and John Malkovich.

What I Didn’t Like – Gratuitous introduction of Carly. Plot took too long to build up to the invasion. A few too many plot conveniences.

Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)

5 thoughts on “Transformers – Dark of the Moon Review

  1. I loved Transformers as a kid. I think Optimus Prime is the Nelson Mandela of heroes. Fantastic design and characters. After seeing the the first live action Transformers movie. I will never, ever see another Michael Bay directed film for as long as i’m in control of what i see. If someone told me that Transformers: Dark of the Moon. would have the same impact on you that Star Wars did thirty years ago. I still wouldn’t show up.

    • Yeah, it’s a fairly divisive film and not for everyone. But whatever Michael Bay’s failings, he knows how to blow stuff up.

    • I have fond memories of watching Transformers as a kid…but no real recolection of the show itself. Hypothetical: If these films were original creations, would people have the same problems with them?

  2. Im glad i watched it on blu ray than in the theater.
    Ok it has the best special effects ive ever seen in a movie really great action scenes.
    SOme of the humor was really funny like that Wang character.
    But i have to ask Michael Bay, “Cant you make a great action movie without it being
    so shallow and soul less?”
    Though there were lots of transformer’s action, there wasnt much transformer’s character development.
    Megatron just sat there most of the time.
    The movie was very very formulaic, comedy (mostly flat), love, drama, action all mixed in to
    play on audiences etc I just thought this movie is pretty manipulative yet doesnt get me rooting for any of the characters.
    Honestly i felt like i was watching a Typical Indian Bollywood movie.
    You know the only thing missing was music and dance choreography.
    In fact if you give the Indian moviemakers enough money they couldve nailed this one flat and
    pretty much given the same product that Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg has produced in
    Transformers 3.

    • That’s an interesting call on the similarity to Bollywood. Modern Bollywood is the king of taking a formula and running it into the ground. There have been a number of cycles over the years, and local audiences are starting to get tired of it. While I think that Hollywood blockbusters have a way to go before they reach that point, it’s a good warning for studios.

      While I can certainly understand someone waiting to see this on Blu-ray, the spectacle of it all was worth seeing at the cinema. Whatever else can be said about Michael Bay, he’s good at blowing things up.

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