“From here, the fight will be your own.”
The Transformers films have had a long problematic journey ever since the decent and promising original came out in 2007. The original may not have been the greatest or most intelligent movie, but it was fun to watch and looked like a hopeful start to a new series of films. In 2009 Revenge of the Fallen was released to the world and has since become the definition of dumb bad movie as it was filled with mindless action all tied loosely together by an extremely weak plot. As much promise as it held it was not able to deliver what audiences were craving. For many film goers it seems that Dark of the Moon has the huge task of not only being entertaining but also redeeming the terrible second movie. Michael Bay himself apologized for the failures of the Revenge of the Fallen and promised a better third movie. With Dark of the Moon it seems that Bay is aiming for a darker film that will finally wrap up the transformers trilogy which does give audiences hope for an emotionally satisfying ending. So the big question on everyone’s mind is can Michael Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger pull off a dark, entertaining, and emotionally satisfying end to this usually dumb but still fun film trilogy?
The movie begins with with a really cool and ambitious opening that shows us that a small group of transformers from Cybertron had crashed on the moon in the early 1960s which is what really pushed JFK to start the space race. We learn that these transformers actually held a key weapon that would have turned the tide of the war on Cybertron had it not gone missing. The prologue essentially sets the premise by showing the audience that the real reason we landed on the moon was so that we could investigate the landing; not to simply beat the Russians. The movie then fast forwards to the current day and we can see that Sam Witwicky(Shia LeBeouf) has graduated college and wishes he had a job. He is very angry that instead of getting an important job from the government for helping the autobots twice he got a medal from Obama. He now has a new girlfriend Carly(Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) who seems to care very little about Sam’s past, but more about his future. All of this said; lets be honest nobody really cares about the humans, its the Autobots and Decepticons we want to know about. Well the Autobots are doing pretty much the same thing they’ve been doing the last three movies which is working for the U.S. government. On a mission they find a piece of the ship(AKA the Ark) that crashed on the moon and demand to know why the humans never told them about the moon landing. The government eventually spills the beans and lets Optimus Prime and the Autobots go to investigate. When they get there they find one of the former Autobot leaders; Sentinal Prime who is still unconscious. The Decepticons are not fairing as well as the Autobots as they are all hiding in the African desert waiting for their latest plan to hatch. Surprisingly the Decepticons are far more intelligent than they appeared in the first or second movies as this time they actually have a plan that seems plausible. The movie unfolds from here and delivers a surprising twist and some really top notch action that eventually climaxes during a full scale invasion of Chicago.
The story for these films have never really been good. While the this film is certainly an improvement in the category of story it still really lacks cinematic storytelling. What we do get is a very dumb and plot hole filled mess that is loaded down with tons of middle school grade humor and an explosion or attractive Victoria’s secret model every time something doesn’t make sense. Sure its fun but I promise you its not good and it treats its audience like they are dumber than a sack of rocks. For those of you who accept this type of movie as great storytelling; do not mistake the writer’s attempts at being clever by manipulating historical facts to fit the story for masterful storytelling. Despite its major flaws the story is still serviceable enough for what the film is trying to do, which is create a war that giants robots can battle each other in. The story may not be good but it is still better than the story of the previous entires’ to the series.
Lets not even joke about character development and get to the thing people are watching this movie for: the explosions. I really do have to hand it to Michael Bay because he really does know how to make an extremely exciting and great looking set piece that will wow audiences. He is truly a master in the realm of special effects. Visually this movie is incredible; everything from the transformers to the explosions the the character animation(aside from CGI JFK) looks terrific. There were many times when I was unsure of what all was CGI and what was practical because Bay has been able to blend the computer generated and the real so well. There was actually some really great cinematography done in this movie as well as we get some beautiful shots of Africa, destroyed Chicago, and Washington D.C. To say that Bay is a terrible director really is unfair because he is a master of the visual in a way that few other directors in Hollywood are.
Overall Transformers Dark of the Moon does succeed in being a fully entertaining movie and is enjoyable. The problems come when you start to critically think about the plot or any number of the other ridiculous things that are occurring on the screen. The story is still incredibly dumb even if it is much better than its predecessors and it never fails to pretend like the audience doesn’t have a brain. The other problems that plague the movie are the obnoxiously long run time(157 minutes), a pathetically immature and dumb brand of humor, and characters that never; repeat NEVER tempt you to care about them or if they live or die. In the world of transformer all we ask is that we get a story that makes enough sense to get giant robots to fight each other and to that demand the movie fits the bill.
The story isn’t good and I don’t think any intelligent film goer expects that by now, but what it is is serviceable for getting the robots to fight each other There are tons of plot holes and things that don’t make sense but luckily the story holds up enough to keep the film from falling apart. Its a really dumb story that absolutely does not hold up under scrutiny but it is a really fun one.
The characters in this film are all pretty flat. None of them really change and you don’t really care about any of them other than Megatron, Bumblebee, and Optimus Prime. That being said most of the actors seems to be having a good time playing these roles. I believe Shia realizes he has outgrown the role because he has shown that he can do far better. The new damsel in distress is a very flat, uninteresting, uninspired, pointless and horribly acted character. Her entire purpose is to look pretty. What remains to interest audiences are the transformers and unfortunately their characters are never really meant to develop. That said these characters are most times fun to watch
Giving a score to this high to a director who can’t create masterful storytelling may seem crazy but hear me out; Michael Bay knows what he’s doing and he is doing it exceptionally well. I don’t believe he is trying to deliver a film that is focused on characters or story; he is delivering a movie about action, explosions, and giant robots killing each other. He does all of this and makes it look like an art form because of how well executed it is.Bay is able to combine practical and digital effects in a way that I have never seen before. All of the special effects are terrific and the action set pieces are a blast. Despite the fact that the story and characters are weak Bay still delivers where it counts(at least for this type of film).
Overall Effectiveness of the Film: 8.0
The movie has a story that can carry the action, characters that may be dumb but are usually fun to watch, and most of all some extremely well crafted visual effects, set pieces, and explosions. This movie is the definition of an enjoyable summer blockbuster………almost. What really hurts this movie tries to trick into thinking that it is more clever than it actually is. We know the writing is not good, but yet the writers throw in little things here and there that taunt viewers with intelligent ideas and concepts. The next biggest flaw is the really immature humor which may me laughable at first but it gets extremely old extremely quickly. The worst part is that there are entire characters who are there to give said brand of humor. Lastly the movie is flat out too long; it really should have been cut down at least another 30 minutes to make the film a little tighter.The movie is exciting, visually impressive, and entertaining and in the end thats what matters, but it sure would have helped if Bay would have been able to get rid of a few issues that have plagued the entire series.
Overall Score 6.0