Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is a Shiny Empty Thing

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 86 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Running time: 154 minutes (2 hours, 34 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo
DIRECTOR: Michael Bay
WRITERS: Ehren Kruger (based on Hasbro’s Transformers Action Figures)
PRODUCERS: Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and Ian Bryce
EDITOR: Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, and Joel Negron


Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rose Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong, Lester Speight, Glenn Morshower, and Buzz Aldrin; (voices) Peter Cullen, Leonard Nimoy, Hugo Weaving, Frank Welker, Charlie Adler, Reno Wilson, and Keith Szarabajka

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a 2011 science fiction war and action film. It is the third movie in the live-action film series starring Hasbro’s popular toy line, the Transformers. The two other movies were Transformers (2007) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). Once again, the human hero from the first two films is caught in a war between two factions of alien robots, the Autobots and the Decepticons, but this time the war involves a new technology that could enslave humanity and forever change Earth.

Dark of the Moon takes place three years after the events of the second film. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is frustrated on two fronts. U.S. government officials will no longer allow him to work with the Autobots, and Director of National Intelligence Charlotte Mearing (Frances McDormand) tells Sam that he is not a hero, but was merely a messenger bringing the Autobots to the world’s attention. Sam also cannot find post-college employment that satisfies him professionally and financially. He is also irritated that his new girlfriend, Carly Spencer (Rose Huntington-Whiteley), supports them both with her high-paying job.

Meanwhile, the Autobots are helping the U.S. military prevent conflicts around the globe. Bigger things are about to happen for the Autobots, however, and it involves a mystery that began 42 years earlier with the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Autobot leader, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), travels to the moon where he finds an Autobot thought to be dead, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), Optimus’ predecessor as leader of the Autobots. Optimus revives Sentinel, and that begins a series of events which allow Megatron (Hugo Weaving), leader of the Decepticons, to commence a diabolical plot to revive Cybertron, the ruined home planet of the Transformers. Soon, the Decepticons launch an all-out war against humanity with Chicago as the epicenter.

USAF Chief Robert Epps (Tyrese Gibson) and “Team Epps” join Sam on a mission to slip into Chicago to save Carly. Meanwhile, U.S. Army Lt. Colonel William Lennox (Josh Duhamel) leads the classified strike team, NEST, into Chicago to help them. But time is running out for them to save Carly and the world.

Like Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon got some bad reviews, although maybe not as many as Revenge. I like this as much as I did Revenge of the Fallen, but both films are too long. Dark of the Moon is probably a half hour longer than it needs to be, but it’s almost worth it to get just about any of the action scenes that include the Transformers. Many of the Transformers here are more complex and have more moving parts, in addition to the fact that this film is shot in 3D. The special visual effects wizards who worked on Dark of the Moon were up to the task and turned in the best visual and special effects of the three films.

Visually, this is an undeniably impressive science fiction action film. Sadly, the rest of the film is either barely coherent or simply incoherent. The acting is often lost in all the noise and visual splendor, and in many cases, that is for the better. There is some hysterically bad acting and embarrassing overacting. This film is also over-the-top and overwrought, and sometimes, it’s just too much. It took me three sittings over three days to watch this movie, and I’m glad I chose not to see it in a theatre.

The special effects and the robots transforming were superb, but as much as that blew my mind, something is really wrong with this movie as a story. This is director Michael Bay at his most mind-numbing, and it is now clear that he has perfected film as sound and fury signifying absolutely nothing. Transformers: Dark of the Moon shows how far the science and technology of cinema have come, but the storytelling is positively Stone Age.

5 of 10

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


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