‘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)