Film Review – Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (M)

Directed by: Michael Bay

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Frances McDormand, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Malkovich

Three stars

Review by Julian Wright

 

After the disastrously hollow and overblown Transformers 2, expectations were that the franchise could only improve from that point. The first one peaked at an unforeseeable high; a film based on merchandise that actually had heart, character, a sense of fun and humour. A real crowd-pleaser. No one expected that.

The sequel took an unfortunate direction, stripping back all of what made the first one appealing to cram in more, longer action sequences, explosions and sleazy lingering shots of Megan Fox’s impossibly bronzed body. It was a senseless mash-up of dueling machines and a lot of running and shouting and at an epic two and a half hours was unbearably painful to endure.

Taking on a third installment, director Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg had the chance to go back to the drawing board and right all the wrongs. While some aspects have been improved upon, others have been neglected and reflect what was wrong with the second film in the series.

Two time world saver Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has a hero medal from President Obama but is having trouble putting his college degree to good use. He feels the constant pressure from his parents to get a good job, but no job can compare to what he has achieved with his robot allies. Added to his stressful life is his insecurities about his hot British girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) who is suspiciously comfortable with her boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey).

Sam is dragged back into the middle of the battle between intergalactic machine races Decepticons and Autobots when it is re-ignited over advanced technology that could save their planet Cybertron. When the ark, as it is called, was shot out into space during the war it crash landed on the Moon. When the USA and Russia learned of its existence it was a race to be the first to claim it in the 1960s. Now the Autobots want it to allow them to save their planet and dominate Earth.

There are betrayals, double crosses and plenty of drama, unfortunately it is all between the machines. If the human characters had as much to emote, this would be a halfway decent entry in the franchise. Not only are the new characters (some played by veterans Malkovich and McDormand) underdeveloped, they are over the top and quirky to no effect and La Beouf plays Sam as bitter and unlikable. Who are we supposed to root for here?

Juxtaposed with the desperate slapstick and goofball humour are the darker moments that dot the film and leave a bad taste. Bay and writer Ehren Kruger’s apocalyptic battles leave a nasty undertone and drains some of the fun when people are obliterated but they make the horrible mistake of making jokes when people plummet to their deaths. Not cool, guys.

It is a damn shame because when it comes to the action and special effects, they are the most superior of the series. Bay has eased up on the editing so this time the action sequences are more coherent and machines can finally be differentiated. There are some breathtaking stunts and the thrillingly awesome demolition of landmarks is a treat. Bay has redeemed and outdone himself in this department.

 

 

 

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