Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Ehren Krugar
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Ken Jeong, Glenn Morshower, Buzz Aldrin, Bill O. Reilly
Voice Cast for CGI characters: Hugo Weaving, Peter Cullen, Leonard Nimoy, Jess Harnell, Charles Adler, Robert Foxworth, James Remar, Francesco Quinn, George Coe, Tom Kenny, Reno Wilson, Frank Welker, Ron Bottitta, John DiMaggio, Greg Berg, Keith Szarabajka
Synopsis: The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.
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The Never ending battle between the Autobots and Decepticons Continue...
Although some of my readers know how much I hate Michael Bay's version of "Transformers", and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if many of you think that I never cared for the franchise as a whole. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. In spite of my hatred towards Bay's half ass portrayal of "Transformers", the truth is that I'm actually a huge fan of the "Transformers" series. Not just the original version that I grew up with, but I also grew to love the other various series as well; which includes "Beast Wars", "Beast Machines", "Transformers the animated series, and others.
Hell, "Transformers: The Movie" used to be my all time favorite film as a child, as I used to watch it every single damn day. In fact, I can still recall memories of playing with my Transformer figures and hot wheels (to substitute for the characters that I didn't have at the time), then acting out the entire animated movie; scene by scene. Seriously, I used to love that movie so much as a child that it wasn't even funny. Even when my tastes in films became more refined growing up, I still held a soft spot for the original movie that I went out and bought the special edition DVD upon it's release. Contrary to popular belief, I am a huge fan of the Transformer franchise, and I've always made it a point to watch every single adaptation of the characters. Whether it be a new series like "Transformers Armada", "Transformers Cybertron", or whatever, to even watching this garbage that Bay puts out. That's why it saddens me sometimes thinking about what this franchise could've been.
Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't expect any kind of Academy Award winning story from a franchise that was squarely designed to sell toys from the beginning. However, I do expect a story that remains faithful to the heart of the series, and who the characters are. A story that not only entertains, but one that'll make you want to relive those precious moments as a child. One that makes us want to see characters like Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Bumble Bee succeed rather than seeing them reduced to mere background supporting characters. Sure, the original animated film wasn't that great in comparison to others, but at least it was entertaining. You actually cared about the war between the Decepticons and Autobots. The final showdown between Megatron and Optimus Prime was an epic fight to behold, and it certainly resonated a lot of emotional weight in the animated movie. Whereas the Michael Bay's version, the fights go by so fast that it makes it almost impossible to root for any of the characters. Not only that, but you really don't get as much insight to who the Autobots are to even care about them as deeply, as you would if you watched any of the animated cartoons.
Having said all that, I doubt most audiences will care about anything that I just said here. However, it just saddens me to be quite honest. Next to the "Star Wars Prequel" series, I wanted to like this franchise so much. If only to relive my childhood memories. Unfortunately like the "Star Wars Prequels", the more I tried to like this franchise for what it is, the more I found myself resenting it even more. Why? Because outside the first movie, you really never get much of a sense of who the characters are, and the fight scenes are nothing more than random CGI eye candy with no emotional weight to it at all. However, I have to give credit where credit is due. Unlike the last two garbage films produced by Bay, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is surprisingly better than expected.
According to the film's story, before the war shifted from Cybertron to Earth, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) evacuated on a ship that carried a new source of technology. Allegedly this new technology was so revolutionary that it was said to hold the key to shifting the tide in the Autobots favor, and ending the war with the Decepticons once and for all. Unfortunately, Sentinel's ship lands on the moon back in the 1960's. Hence, the space race was born, as the movie explains it was actually a cover-up for the government's true purpose of going to moon; which was to investigate the alien spacecraft. Upon learning some of the secrets of the ship, the government kept their findings confidential from the public, and most government personnel. Hell, even the Autobots are kept in the dark about this conspiracy, as this does cause severe problems later on.
Meanwhile, the Autobots continue working with the United States Air Force in not only hunting down Decepticons, but aiding us in our efforts to combat other threats like terrorists. All the while, the Decepticons are biding their time, as they scheme to make one last run to vanquish the Autobots once and for all; while enslaving mankind. However, where would our story be without our everyman, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), who has seemingly cut all ties with his last super hot girlfriend, Mikaela (Megan Fox), and he's recently involved with another super hot girl in Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).
According to the movie, Sam was recently given the medal of honor for saving the world twice with his Autobot friends, but like all of us in this age, he struggles to find a decent job. Forced to live off his girlfriend, as it seems he couldn't land a job to save his life. Carly not only supports him in every fathomable way, but she's also highly successful. And, her boss is an ex-boyfriend of hers that showers her with expensive gifts..... Why is she dating Sam again? Oh well. Far be it from me to question what the heart wants, but I doubt seriously in real life Sam would end up with a super hot girlfriend....let alone twice. I'm sorry, but I just don't see it. I guess Sam must either have one helluva a charming personality to these women, or he's that damn good of a lover behind closed doors. I'm just saying. Then again, who am I to judge?
To get back on topic here, Megatron organizes a conspiracy that runs so deep within our government that allegiances will become strained, and people will be betrayed. Unlike the last two movies, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" isn't that cut and dry when it comes to story, as you can tell the screen writers for this movie did an excellent job with the script. Seriously, the concept of tying in the Transformers story arc into the space race in the 1960's is a work of pure genius. Sure, some critics have called it absurd, but I thought it was rather interesting to say the least to see how Bay's writers meshed those elements together.
Unfortunately, the film still fails tragically on execution. Sure, Shia does his best to carry the movie, as he's plays the only character that's worth caring about in this film. As for his new love interest, Rosie, she's nothing more than eye candy for this film; just in the same way that Megan Fox was in the previous ones. I do apologize if that sounds sexists, but it's true. Throughout the movie if she's not staring blankly into space, she's acting flamboyant and flirtatious in very skimpy to tight fitting outfits that leave little to the imagination; while delivering her lines as if she just barely got out of acting school. Don't get me wrong, I like looking at pretty girls as much as the next guy, but couldn't Bay have picked a better actress than her for this final movie? Your telling me that out of all the actresses in Hollywood that he could've picked, he chose to go with a Victoria Secret model that has no previous acting experience whatsoever? This is the best you can do? You really are a louse, Michael Bay.
Anyways, as I said earlier, the premise and script seemed very well organized, and it definitely had a lot of potential there. Unfortunately, the film gets lost in execution, as the later half of the film becomes so water downed into a bare "rock' em sock' em" robots slug fest that you barely start to care. Sure, the lead up to the final fight scenes between the Autobots and Decepticons was probably as great as any lead up that I've seen in any movie, but the character development around the Autobots themselves is so minimal that you really don't seem to care about them at all.
Sure, if the story had focused just a bit more on possibly the relationships that the Autobots had with some of the humans like Sam and his military buddies, then it might've given us more reason to care. Instead, Bay skips that part completely to head straight into the action; which is a big mistake on his part. Hell, even Jon Favreau once said when he made "Iron Man" that character development isn't something that should ever be skipped when establishing who the key characters are, as it helps the audience feel a much more emotional attachment to the protagonist's plight. Something that Michael Bay's version of Transformers often skips. Sure, he does a great job establishing every man, Sam Witwicky, but when it comes to the other characters, they're not that remotely interesting.
At least the animated movie made you actually care about the Autobot's plight against the Decepticons. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about Bay's Transformers trilogy. Sure, the trilogy as a whole had it's moments, and it's a lot of fun to watch if you're just looking for a good popcorn film to watch without thinking too much. However, it could have been so much more, as the story was laid out perfectly in this movie to be a great film. It had irony, plot twists, and it had a villain that used to be close to Optimus Prime on a personal level; as well as Sam's feelings of being insignificant, as he's currently unemployed in a struggling economy. Seriously, all the elements are there to make a great epic movie, and the final showdown between the Decepticons and Autobots should be nothing less than stellar. Unfortunately, it gets lost in translation, as the latter half of the film is rushed and falls into way too cliches.
As for the special effects, I think fans will definitely be happy, as it's everything you'd expect from Bay. Although I might criticize Michael Bay a lot for how he's handled this franchise, I will give him credit for always being a visionary when it comes to visual effects. Unfortunately, the 3-D cinematography wasn't that great either, so I wouldn't see this in 3-D if I were you.
Overall, I wouldn't go out on a limb to say that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is a bad movie, as it's definitely entertaining, and I think audiences of the previous movies will come to love this one as well. Definitely worth a two and a half out of four. It's not a great summer movie, but I think Bay fans will get what they paid for. A lot of special effects, a hot girl, humor, and things that go boom! What else can you expect from a Michael Bay film? I just wish it could have been a lot more...
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