Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Alan Tudyk, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson
Transformers: The Dark of the Moon (2011) out now in cinemas
(12A) Running Time: 157 minutes
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Hunting-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, John Malkovich, Francis McDormand, John Turturo, Josh Duhamel
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
Let’s make one thing absolutely clear, whatever I say here will fall on deaf ears. If you have not seen Transformers 3 yet, then I doubt anything I say here will persuade you otherwise. If you have seen it, then hopefully we can come to some agreement here and have some fun picking the film apart. There is no doubt that the whole world is dying to catch a glimpse of Michael Bay’s third movie about the Robots in Disguise, and clearly the majority of people will actually be backing 3D here or a change, but will this movie leave the public hungry for a fourth? Quite possibly as Revenge of the Fallen was a stinker: a complete mess of a film which should have killed off the franchise. But, low and behold, Bay promised a third film, a better film, a more serious film and the world bought it, me included. I forgot the awfulness of part two once I had seen the first trailer for Dark of the Moon, I completely forgot how bad part two was when I witnessed the rather awesome second trailer which, in all honesty looked fantastic. I went into the cinema with an open mind, and a slight level of anticipation and excitement. Here’s what happened…
The film opens with a rather excellent build up, it is intense and dark and quite brooding as we witness the Apollo Missions heading to the moon on secret Government cover ups. According to this story, the Apollo Missions run by both the US and Russia were actually meant to find a mysterious crashed spacecraft. Clever Presidential footage and Apollo Mission footage is merged to look like they really were looking for this spacecraft. The spacecraft is found and some of its secrets brought back to Earth. So far, actually so good. It all goes wrong when Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) appears on screen and Bay feels that he has had enough of serious, enough of what could be an interesting plot and instead decides to take that awful crowd pleasing route of stupid jokes and heartwarming speeches. Hell, even his parents make a return in a giant caravan and are angry he hasn’t yet found a job. Honestly, who the Hell cares. He keeps reminding us that he saved the world, but the poor fella can’t find work, oh the sadness!! In all honesty, he has no reason to want to get out of bed, because his girlfriend is a fine looking woman indeed. Yes, replacing the damned fine looking Megan Fox is newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Jason Statham’s Missus) and she is hot, playing Sam’s girlfriend Carly. She first appears on screen, at first in tight white knickers, all is going fine and then she speaks. If you thought Megan Fox couldn’t act, wait til you see this! Terrible terrible actress, clearly there for looks and looks alone. Considering Michael Bay and his supposedly vicious working ethic, you’d think he’d have mentioned to his new star that she is actually acting here. It is embarrassing, and so the less said the better, just cover your ears when she speaks, its more enjoyable that way!
As the silly, childlike story unfolds, Optimus Prime is angry that ‘the humans’ have kept their knowledge from him of what they found, and after a temper tantrum and a meeting with Frances McDormands high up Government official, Prime heads to the Moon before the Decepticons to get on the ship and hopefully find Sentinel Prime, Optimus’ mentor. He has the power to change the fate of the Autobots with some silly little chunks of cybertronian stuff which can transport both robots, and worlds through space. Great! From here on it is business as usual as Optimus give speech after speech after speech of human loving bollocks, Witwicky continues to be a bit of a prat, living off his name, telling off Bumble Bee and trying to get into the secret government warehouse to speak to his favourite chunks of metal. John Malkovich provides some of the highlights as Sam’s new boss, all over the top and crazy looking and in dire need of perfection in his office. In a meeting with Bumble Bee, Malkovich’s Bruce Brazos has a pretend fight with what he thinks is a toy, he loses and his hair ends up all over the place. I could not help but laugh out loud! John Turturo is back as Simmons and provides the best all round natural comedy, as he always does, and steels the show every moment he is on screen. The usual army ‘dudes’ are back too, although Epps (Gibson) is now guarding a secret Autobot spaceship. The Decepticons are back, funny that, and Megatron looks rusty and old and a bit worn. However, new bad ass Decepticon Shock Wave is an awesome new character and there just is not enough of him in the film. He controls these worm like monsters that provide some of the special effects highlights throughout the film.
The biggest issue with The Dark of the Moon is the first two hours is so bloody slow, with nonsense plot twists, silly Optimus Prime speeches, too much comedy, crowd pleasing rubbish and a slapstick attitude that destroys any tension or build up of menace which was so lovingly promised in the superb trailers. Bay teases with moments of action, some quite brilliant (Shock Wave’s first appearance is something to really treasure) and never fulfills his promise. The levels of excitement go up and down like a rollercoaster and the anticipation of something great happening quickly turns into frustration. Even the music feels confused, it builds up but never climaxes and cuts off while at it’s peak, it feels messy and truth be told, Bay simply cannot sustain excitement. One moment you’re in awe of a big action moment, the next you have to deal with an irritating twat like the Hangover’s Ken Jeong as idiotic office worker Jerry Wang. Bay’s methods are all over the place, and some of his ideas are very distasteful indeed (Autobots playing suicide bombers in a brief history of how they’ve been helping the humans, the Chernobyl disaster being used as a plot twist). He paints his characters like cartoons, and even though this is better than Revenge of the Fallen, it just doesn’t have the capacity or the bravery to be something great.
However, the majority of viewers will leave on a high as Bay saves his best for last. After all the build up and crash lands, Bay executes a forty five minute action extravaganza in Chicago as Autobots, Decepticons and ‘The Humans’ battle it out to try and stop one robot bringing Cybertron to Earth. The reasons for bringing Cybertron to Earth is unclear and, to be fair, one of the stupidist plot ideas I have heard this year. However, it does lead to some fantastic action, and one drawn out scene in particular is gonna be hard to beat as the finest example of big budget special effects merged with 3D. A skyscraper is literally torn down, and the Humans fighting are caught right in the middle. I’d hate to spoil it so my lips are sealed, but wow, what a moment! Alongside this, you have other special forces guys literally jumping out of the sky with bat-like wings and flying, Shock Wave demolishes as much as he can, and Optimus Prime has another temper tantrum and goes all brutal on our ass as he tears off heads and rips Decepticons in half! Boy, it doesn’t get much better than this! The 3D is amazing too, the best use of the failing formula since Avatar and, in places, is actually better than Avatar! So, the problem is, people will leave the cinema and remember what they have just witnessed for forty five minutes, but it’s when you take the time to re-think the film and go over in your head “was it really that good?” that you start to remember how painful it was to get to the good stuff. Transformers: The Dark of the Moon is a mixed bag, is painfully irritating and will no doubt lead to a fourth (although I don’t see how). Shia LaBeouf has said he will not do another and that is the best decision he can make. This franchise is finished, it has been milked for all its worth. Unless a credible director like, say, JJ Abrams took charge of the next, I will not be watching as I am bored of this now. Great final forty minutes, but the previous two hours proves just how low this franchise has got. Saying that, no one will listen to my warnings anyway. I know you will go see it, just don’t say you weren’t warned!
See Dr Lenera’s opinion here: https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2011/06/transformersdark-of-the-moonin-cinemas-now/ rating: 7/10