N ote: the review is vaguely spoilerish. I think if you’ve seen the trailer you’re fine. It’s almost impossible to spoiler the dumb movie anyway.
There is a moment about half way into ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’ in which the evil decepticon Megatron rips the Lincoln Memorial statue off of its throne; and sits in its place. This is a metaphor for the entire third film in the Michael Bay franchise: don’t learn any lessons from past mistakes, piss on years of history, and then sit atop all the mess as if you’re the king. This third movie is a truly abysmal effort, taking everything that was hated about ‘Transformers 2: Revenge Of The fallen,’ and multiplying it.
The question that everyone will be asking each other is: “is it better than part 2?” – well when we walked out the obvious answer was: “No. It’s much much worse,” but stewing over it – taking the moment to survey the damage – I’ve come to the conclusion that’s its just as bad. Not so much worse. When someone says: “it was good” or “it was an improvement” they have to be talking about the action – which is amazing – but I just refuse to believe they mean the rest of the film.
What first leads you to dump so much hatred onto the movie is that Michael Bay (and company) did not learn a single lesson from ‘Transformers 2.’ Much of ‘Dark Of The Moon’ is so horrendous that at times I wondered if I was watching an inside joke. A ‘lets see how little we can get away with’ kind of deal. Almost zero attention is payed to anything, and I don’t know whether it’s screenwriter Ehren Kruger (who wrote the film solo this time, instead of in conjunction with ‘Star Trek’ writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) or whether it’s director Michael Bay’s fault – but somewhere down the line, someone just didn’t give a crap. Watching ‘Dark Of The Moon’ hurt. I loved the first movie and I despised the second. And like a fool, I bought into the trailers – and just hoped that it would turn out better. You know; ‘Third times a charm.’
I wanted to like it so bad. Do you remember when Shia Lebeouf and Michael Bay apologized for the second film? Do you remember when they said they were making this movie better? Well it looks like they didn’t know what they were apologizing for, and by making it better; they meant including ten times the amount of crap from ‘Revenge Of The Fallen.’
Let’s go back to that movie for a minute. It had incomprehensible action, an almost non-existent narrative, too many human characters, and Michael Bay “comedy,” most specifically two racist characters who couldn’t read and an old robot that farts/ pees engine oil all over a pantless John Turtorro.
At least in that movie the main characters had something to do. In ‘Dark Of The Moon’ the autobots and Sam Witwicky(Lebeouf) are almost entirely passive. It removes the entire drive behind the film. No-one has anything to do, they just (and sometimes literally) stand in the background and look pretty.
The first film is relatable because a) Everyone remembers their first car and b) everyone (yes, even women) want to fuck Megan Fox (in a moment I will discuss Misogyny – but for now remember that Fox’s character was actually a decent role for women: she kicked ass, took no bullshit, and had a good/cool backstory – and she could also act). The second movie is for the most part bullshit – because a) Shia wants to get rid of his awesome car (and heroic life) and b) he wants to break up with Megan Fox. It has next to no relatibility.
We need to care in some way about our characters. In the new film it’s impossible to latch onto anything – because we are given nothing. The whole emotional arc of ‘Dark of the Moon’ is that Sam can’t get any respect from anyone – his parents are tired of him – he can’t get a job. His beautiful and successful girlfriend is more than happy with their relationship (and more than happy to financially support him), but even she is coming to the end of her tether – because he keeps spitting in her face and whining, whining, whining, whining.
In a movie in which every supporting character actively hates the main, how can you expect an audience to like him/her? Sam Witwicky is detestable in this film; an arrogant, petulant, self absorbed asshole – that learns nothing – that even gets rewarded for all of his bullshit behavior. Shia Lebeouf is such a like-able actor (see the first ‘Transformers’) why directors insist on casting him as a dick head is beyond me.
Rosie Huntington-Whitely who plays ‘Carly’: Sam’s new girlfriend, is redundant. Her entrance in the movie is a full framed 3D ass shot as she climbs stairs. It summarizes her entire role. She is as useless as Princess Peach in the Mario Bros games. Only capable of wearing six inch heels and looking pretty and requiring rescuing every 20 minutes. It’s a terribly misogynistic character – and the way in which Michael Bay crams her into these outfits, and the way he frames her body is just plain creepy.
Half way into the movie her horrible acting and dialogue stopped bothering me – (and now I’m a red blooded male, and I admit she is a stunning woman- but I felt horrible for looking at her as she was so objectified – to the point that I felt sorry for her. It wasn’t funny – it ceased to be titillating and just became pathetic.
I just kept thinking of the 46 year old Michael Bay pointing the camera at the 24 year old Whitely and it disturbed me. Maybe many of you won’t have this problem, but for me it’s always bothersome how women are negatively portrayed in cinema. ‘Transformers 3’ is an egregious example of this; and whilst it’s certainly not Michael Bay’s first foray into female objectification – it’s his first time not even bothering to give women characters at all.
It must have been Megan Fox that brought all that backstory and strength to the role of Mikayla. Maybe it was just in the way she carried herself and delivered her lines. I think her not appearing in the new sequel will actively help her career as her absence will alert people of her actual ability – and maybe she will be able to remove the stigma (that even DiCaprio once had) of being just a pretty face. ‘Dark of the Moon’ is Rosie Huntington Whitely’s first acting role (she’s a victoria’s secret model – it’s why she was hired). And as you would expect of an untrained actor: she can’t deliver a single line convincingly (I don’t know if it’s her fault, considering she probably wasn’t given any direction by Bay, and the script’s dialogue is pathetic).
Her character is a complete moron yet other characters call her “Smart.” Yes smart enough to use a telescope to observe these HUGE robots scale a building across the road. The character takes up so little screen-time of the movie, but her impact is wide ranging: Carly and Sam are supposed to be the emotional center of things, and because the filmmakers mess them up – everything goes to hell. It’s seriously difficult to give a damn – especially when everything else is done just as poorly. And I’m aware that this is my fifth paragraph on Whitely, but I’ve only got one more thing to say about her (I promise): and it’s that she is completely unbelievable as Lebeouf’s girlfriend; whilst Megan Fox was superficially unbelievable; her performance and the chemistry she shared with Lebeouf made things work. Whitely shares zero chemistry with Lebeouf, and it’s made worse because she can’t act.
So little attention is given to her character that they keep her in six inch heels and pure white dresses (which – along with her hair and make up- keep completely clean the entire time).
So little attention is given to any of the characters really. Returning characters are either introduced in the most hackneyed or coincidental ways (See Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson) – but the worst offenders in ‘Dark of the Moon’ aren’t them. It’s the parents (this time they have a traveling RV!) and John Tuttoro, whose performance is so bad that I kind of think he was actively trying to ruin each scene he was in.
And then there’s the new characters…
The new “serious” characters are played by Frances McDormand and Patrick Dempsey. McDormand is incapable of giving a bad performance, and nothing is different here. I liked her in every scene, but she is given nothing else to do beside be a roadblock (another bitchy woman in a Michael Bay film) for the Autobots. Dempsey surprisingly does not tank the entire film (like he did ‘Scream 3’) he is decent in the movie – and with what little he has! But his character is completely spoilerish, so we won’t talk about that. But I will say that he is as redundant as Whitely and serves no real narrative purpose besides to be another roadblock. Even though Dempsey is good in the movie – his role sucks – and if you were to remove him from the story the ending would not be affected one iota.
Speaking of the ending not getting impacted at all – you could remove almost the first hour and a half. In which nothing but Michael Bay “Comedy” occurs. So many new characters are introduced for no other reason than comedic relief: there’s Ken Jeong, John Malkovich and Alan Tudyk. All of them good actors, all of them wasted. All of them given the most painful and unfunny stuff to do. Examples:
Malkovich: look at my fake tan.
Alan Tudyk: Gay jokes/ German stereotyping
Ken Jeong: Asian Stereotyping/ pulling pants down jokes
And so forth. If an hour of this isn’t enough, Bay drops in Shia’s parents, John Turtorro, a slam at democrats, an extremely offensive joke that seems to intimate that all Asians are Samurai (basically Michael Bay takes all the racism from the robots in ‘Transformers 2’ and instills it into the human characters of ‘Dark of the Moon,’ this time going overboard.
If it’s still not enough, they include a subplot following the two tiny transformers – from the past movies – which Lebeouf keeps as pets now – and boy are they hard to keep! Watch as they won’t stay in their cage! Laugh as go to sleep in their little beds! Scream ‘Fuck you!’ as loud as you can in the cinema when one of them appears to be smoking because of ‘optical fibers’ or whatever the hell his spiky hair is made of. The first half of the film is an hour and a half of endless, unfunny garbage, that serves no purpose at all but to piss you off. By the time the action comes you’re just angry and insulted by how little effort has gone into things.
So now we’re 1700 words into the review, I guess I should talk about the Robots. The structure of ‘Dark of the Moon’ is that for the first half of the movie: the plot is set up. And then the second half is nothing but explosions. During this first half about 12 scenes of exposition (whether it be from robots or humans – it doesn’t matter) fill the movie. And we learn surprisingly little from the many convoluted scenes, that for the first half of the film are entirely unrelated to the Shia Lebeouf storyline. There is an arc in the movie, but it’s the name of the ship that crashes into the moon – this movie literally and figuratively has no arc.
The plot of the film is simple, yet it pretends to be super intelligent. It can be summarized in a paragraph: When Cybertron was destroyed, Sentinel Prime escaped in a ship holding a tool that could bring Cybertron to Earth. But this ship crashed on Earth’s moon. Years later the autobots learn about this, and at the same time the decepticons do. The autobots recover Sentinel Prime (Optimus revives him) – and then it turns out sentinel prime is evil. He teams up with the ( now inexplicably a new vehicle) Megatron – and together they plan to bring Cybertron to earth and make humans rebuild it.
Basically: Decipticons are invading Earth. let’s hope the Autobots will save us.
And they better, because the military in ‘Dark of the Moon’ are such dumb-asses that they make the troop in ‘Battle:L.A’ look like tacticians. It’s quite amazing how many sections of society that Bay pisses all over. He rips on Asians, Italians, African Americans, Jews, Democrats, the Military, Homosexuals and so forth. His depiction of women in the film is so puerile it indicates a complex, as well as a serious hatred of females. But look, I am going to give Bay the benefit of the doubt here (because I don’t want to move into personally attacking the man, and making assumptions on things I couldn’t possibly know) but what is on screen indicates a certain mode of thinking: and someone has to take responsibility for it. Don’t they?
The humans get a complete rip down. The robots fair no better. Prime gets some cool stuff to do in the beginning, and Bumblebee shines in a couple of spectacular moments, but as in the last movie it’s the same old shit: Bay refuses to let them fight each other. It’s like he actively hates the Autobots.
I think the last 45 minutes of ‘Dark of the Moon’ are going to trick people into thinking that Robots actually fought on screen for an extended period. Shit does blow up continuously, and shockwave is ripping down buildings, but the action we want: Robot vs Robot (No Guns/driving) is absent. Every time it gets close to a fist fight, Bay interrupts it – and most annoyingly every time an actual fist fight begins, bay cuts away to the humans – it’s so frustrating, and by the time it cuts back, the fucking fight is over! All the fights in the movie are anti-climactic: Robots that are given an hours worth of buildup are disposed of within seconds of an Autobot arriving. It all just induces furious head scratching.
But I’m not a complete idiot. The action in ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ is visually impressive. Industrial Light and Magic have outdone themselves. The special effects work is amazing. And look, Michael Bay knows how to stage an action sequence. The 3D works the best it ever has, and there are many ‘holy shit!’ moments. You will have a lot of fun during these scenes (some of them are good-most of them not: specifically some ‘power glove’ antics).
What makes the action lacking in ‘Dark of the Moon’ is that no-one gives a crap about anything. At least in the last movie some sort of reality was created. Now, there is no such thing as physics or logic. Humans can slide down skyscraper windows and not be hurt, they can swing wildly into walls, fall hundreds of feet…all without a scratch. And because each scene (while featuring amazing stunt work and SFX) was crafted without much care for a) the people and the robot characters in them & b) logic, physics or reason: it’s very difficult to enjoy any of it.
Quite a few shots of the movie are very inventive, and the medium has been pushed in parts. Look, the action is crazy, and if it were hung around almost any other plot-line the movie would be worth raving about. But they just didn’t care. It’s all so redundant and half-baked. I’ll wrap this formless rant soon I promise.
Optimus, Megatron and all the other robots you remember are underused again. I just wish for once that Michael Bay and the writers would have a scene at the beginning which showed the Autobots just hanging out with Sam – you know just kicking back inside their home, enjoying life. I kept wondering the whole movie why the autobots even care – it’s almost like they are just fighting to stay alive, rather than protect humanity.
Admittedly Optimus and Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) get some moments to shine, as well as IronHide and Bumblebee, but it’s everyone else that gets shafted: Reduced to maybe a line of dialogue or nothing at all in the entire film. Other characters like Ratchet and Sideswipe are non existent.
Instead of using the THRID MOVIE to fulfill a simple obligation; Bay doesn’t spend time with any of the robots we know and love; but rather populates the movie with ANNOYING/OFFENSIVE and COMEDIC robots. Like Skids and Mudflap: i.e. the “Black” robots in the last movie – we get Wheelie (toy truck) and Brains (laptop) for the most part. They even have an annoying subplot. There is even another autobot the introduce: the fan favorite Wheel-Jack: that instead of honoring the cartoon show/toys’s design – they instead made him to look like Albert Einstein instead – Hair, mustache, glasses and all. It’s just mind bending, it’s like Bay wants to spit in our face. Don’t include WheelJack, just make it a new character. It’s like it solely exists just to piss the fans off.
On the decepticon front it’s a complete joke. Again we can’t get a simple Starscream/Megatron plot – I think Starscream had one line in the entire film. Megatron is beyond laughable – because of his design. Suddenly onscreen on safari, with no set up telling us what he has been up to or anything – (when we catch up with him he is walking around in safari with the animals) – so lazy the script is that they don’t even bother to re-introduce him in the movie…it’s just accepted that he’s been in hiding…it’s as if there is some mythical movie in between this and the last that we missed. Why should they bother with his character anyway – it’s just Megatron. No fan wants to see him done correctly anyway. Also Megatron is now half rotten, covered in robotic spiders. He’s a walking metaphor for the degradation of the franchise’s quality, as well as the films ultimate critical reception.
There are so many decipticons in the movie and they are all badly designed. One looks like a predator (the movie series), and most of them have fangs and seem to dribble, or have hair and whatnot. Some of them even bleed red liquid – eh, I’m thinking about this more then they probably have, all I know is that every time I saw one of these half organic/indistinguishable messes of black metal I just laughed.
Like the last movie; it’s difficult to tell the robots apart when they fight. But luckily for us the robots barely fight. It’s mostly Shockwave (the only decepticon they get right) just tearing shit up – and he’s easy to see because he is fifty times bigger than everyone else. I’d say most of the fights are impenetrable, but a few of them really work – but it’s only if they involve Optimus, Bumblebee or IronHide (Sentinel Prime is also easy to see because he is red – he however, doesn’t fight much). Bumblebee has the best scene in the movie and it’s blown in the trailer.
But there is a moment in the middle of the action in which a favorite autobot character is killed. I won’t say who – but it is ridiculous. NO ONE even mentions it. At all. No tears are shed, no-one even shrugs. Just bang and done. Two seconds later the movie resumed as if nothing happened. Pissing in the wind. At this point I was done with it, if they were going to be so lazy to not even pay respect to a MAJOR ROBOT CHARACTER dying – then fuck it. All hope is gone. With this little respect given to the viewer why even bother anymore?
But the movie goes on, and on and on. As does this review. I could keep it rolling and rolling. Come two hours into ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ you begin to question how long it took them to write the movie. My guess is a single weekend. So little care is given to anything in the film – besides a couple of the explosions. Human characters are introduced for nothing but jokes – and just wind up extending the whole proceedings. look, almost every human character is FORGOTTEN about half an hour before the end: there are no wrap ups for half the cast. No plots are tied up, it’s just like they figured: “hey who cares about cutting back to them – why bother?”
It’s like they wrote one poor dramatic film, and then another non stop action film. Then cut the scripts in half and nailed them together. There are no arcs, no emotions, no story. Only cheap offensive “jokes”, and eye candy. If they cared so little about a $200 million dollar film, then why the hell should you care about seeing it?
The only reasons I can recommend this, is for the IMAX 3D -the best ever – and the action: which is somewhat creative and awesome. All in all, I’m recommending you see a three hour film for maybe 5 minutes total of cool scenes.
Ah whatever, you’ll see this no matter what I say. And like all of you guys – I’ll be first in line for the inevitable ‘Transformers 4’ with my fingers crossed saying “well the trailer was amazing” and “please, please let them have learned form their mistakes – it could be so good!”
But like myself not learning my lesson with ‘Transformers 2’, Bay and company make the same mistake of not learning theirs. I wanted to like ‘Dark of the Moon’ so, so, so badly. But in the end it was a piece of crap, yet surprisingly worth the 3D surcharge.
And, you know, 3D has reached the endpoint now: ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’ could never work in 2D – and for that reason you can either see this once, or never at all.
‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ is just as bad as ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ – but that is faint praise. See it in 3D, with your friends. Then never ever think about it again.
I’m no longer rating films on the website. It’s needless to say this; but ‘Dark of the Moon’ would not have gotten a high score at all.