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Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon Movie Review
Transformers 3 Movie Review - Third Time Is Not The Charm!!
Reviewing a "Transformers" movies is a bit tough, because, unless you've been living in a cave since 2007, you know to simply expect a big budget special effects extravaganza of giant transforming robots smashing the sh*t out of each other. In fact, that is what you want to see. Anyone going into these films looking for the next "King's Speech," or anything resembling award winning screen writing or acting performances, should be escorted from the theater by the guys in white coats.
All that being said, when it comes to my mega action summer movies, I do still expect a semi-coherent storyline that flows, and makes sense and is consistent within the universe created by the film (or films, as in this case), all of which I found lacking in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." While I was a huge fan of the first "Transformers" film, and was willing to forgive the somewhat lackluster second film, I found the third film, which I had high hopes for, to be a let down for the most part. While the CGI effects and action were still incredible (and no doubt this movie will make a ton of money), with the two and half hour running time, Director Michael Bay proves that sometimes more is not better.
Transformers: Dark of The Moon Now Available on DVD/Blu Ray!!
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON - MOVIE INFO
Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky
Josh Duhamel as Lt. Col. William Lennox
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly Spencer
John Turturro as Agent Seymour Simmons
Tyrese Gibson as Chief Robert Epps
Patrick Dempsey as Dylan Gould
John Malkovich as Bruce Brazos
Frances McDormand as Charlotte Mearing
Ken Jeong as Jerry Wang
Peter Cullen as the voice of Optimus Prime
Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Sentinel Prime
Written By: Ehren Kruger
Directed By: Michael Bay
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 155 minutes
TRANSFORMERS 3 - OFFICIAL TRAILER
TRANSFORMERS 3 - MOVIE REVIEW
* * WARNING, MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD * *
The movie begins with a flashback to one of the last battles between the Autobots and Decepticons that took place over their home planet, Cybertron. During the battle an Autobot spacecraft called the Ark, which was piloted by the Autobots then leader, Sentinel Prime, was carrying a secret technology that could have helped end the war. The Ark was damaged trying to escape the battle, causing it to crash land on the dark side of Earth's moon. We learn that the crash took place in 1961, and was detected by both the U.S. and the Russians, which is what led to the moon race of the 1960s, and that the Apollo 11 moon landing was actually a cover to investigate the crash.
In the present day, the Autobots are still working with the U.S. military's NEST (Network Elements Supporters and Transformers) team to hunt down any remaining Decepticons, and that they have also been working independently to stop humans from destroying each other. On a mission to Chernobyl, which is set up by a Ukrainian government official, the Autobots and a NEST team discover a fuel cell from the Ark, that the Soviet Union attempted to use as a power source, which resulted in the Chernobyl meltdown. After confronting the U.S. National Intelligence Director, Charlotte Mearing, and learning of the Ark's crash on the moon, Optimus Prime launches his own mission to retrieve Sentinel Prime and the Ark's secret cargo, before they can be discovered by the Decepticons. Mearing is disturbed to learn from Optimus Prime that the secret technology, called the "Pillars," are teleportation devices that could potentially be used to transport an invading army to Earth.
Meanwhile, we find Sam Witwicky as an unemployed college graduate, living with his new hot girlfriend, Carly Spencer, who works for an ultra rich accountant/car collector, Dylan Gould, who appears to have eyes for her. Sam is able to land a job in the mail room of a large company, where he is approached by a co-worker, Jerry Wang, who passes him information about a conspiracy relating to the Autobots and the dark side of the moon. Wang is subsequently killed by Decepticon, Laserbeak, who makes Wang's death look like a suicide. After being rebuffed in his requests to help by Intelligence Director Mearing, Sam seeks out retired Agent Simmons for help.
Sam and Simmons discover that the Decepticons have been systematically killing persons involved with the U.S. and Russian space missions. After tracking down a couple Russian cosmonauts, who went into hiding after the Russian space program was shut down, Sam and Simmons are shown pictures taken by Russian satellites of the dark side of the moon, which show hundreds of the Pillars being dragged away and stockpiled. Sam realizes that the Decepticons had found and raided the Ark decades earlier, only leaving Sentinel Prime and five of the Pillars behind as a trap for the Autobots, since the only one able to revive Sentinel Prime was Optimus Prime (and Sentinel is the only one who in turn could activate the Pillars).
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THE STORY (Continued)
Sam is able to warn the Autobots that the Decepticons are targeting Sentinel Prime in order to activate the Pillars. However, after Sentinel is escorted to the NEST base where the other five "Pillars" are being kept, he reveals himself as a traitor, executes Ironhide, and escapes with the remaining Pillars. Sentinel, now allied with Megatron and the rest of the Decepticons, subsequently uses the Pillars to open a space-bridge to the moon to teleport hundreds of Decepticons to Earth, who have been lying in wait for decades.
The Decepticons then tell the United Nations that if they agree to exile the Autobots from Earth, they will leave the planet in relative peace, to which the U.N. quickly agree. Meanwhile, Sam has learned that some humans have been working with the Decepticons for decades, including Carly's boss, Gould, who holds her hostage and, with the Decepticons, threatens to kill her unless Sam finds out what, if any, plan the Autobots have for retaliation. In order to monitor Sam's movements, Gould places a Decepticon watch on his wrist, which also induces pain if he tries to signal anyone.
Sam manages to talk to Optimus Prime before the Autobots board a converted space shuttle to leave the planet, but Optimus, realizing that Sam is under duress, tells him that the Autobots have no plan for retaliation. The Decepticons subsequently destroy the space shuttle after take off, and attack the planet, taking over and fortifying the city of Chicago. A kidnapped Carly, learns from Gould that the Decepticons intend to utilize humans as a slave labor force to rebuild Cybertron, and that they plan to use the Pillars to transport Cybertron itself within close proximity of Earth.
Sam, along with some retired NEST team members, travel to Chicago to retaliate and try to rescue Carly. They are almost killed entering the city, but are saved by the Autobots, who reveal that they safely escaped in one of the shuttle's booster rockets before the Decepticons attack. Sam, the NEST team, and the Autobots close on Gould's penthouse, to rescue Carly and disable the master Pillar before Cybertron can be transported. In a climactic battle the NEST team and Sam manage to disable the leading Decepticons, and Optimus engages in a prolonged battle with Sentinel Prime, and is close to defeat when Megatron, not wanting to answer to Sentinel once Cybertron is restored, takes advantage of the battle and turns on Sentinel. Sam and Bumblebee manage to reach and destroy the master Pillar, causing Cybertron, which had already begun to teleport into orbit near Earth, to collapse in on itself and be destroyed. Megatron's treachery against Sentinel allows Optimus enough time to re-enter the fight and turn the tables on, and defeat both Megatron and Sentinel.
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TRANSFORMERS 3 REVIEW - THE GOOD
I will hand it to Director Michael Bay, as with the previous two "Transformers" films, the strength of "Dark of the Moon" definitely lies in its fantastic visual effects and high-octane action sequences. The CGI effects of the Autobots and Decepticons still never ceases to amaze me, and for the most part, "Dark of the Moon" is packed full of action. The entire last hour of the film is practically one long battle scene with some incredible action sequences, including a skyscraper being broken in half by Shockwave, and Optimus Prime taking out Decepticons left and right. The final battle between Optimus and Sentinel Prime was especially impressive.
However, the most impressive action scene was a stunt sequence that actually involved humans, rather than CGI robots, which was an aerial stunt involving the NEST team jumping out of helo-planes and gliding through the city, in between buildings, at incredible speeds using real life flight suits, all the while dodging Decepticon missles and falling buildings. I understand these flight suits, before this film, had never been used within the physical confines of a city. With the amount of CGI that is used (and overused) in almost all action movies these days, it is nice to still see real stunts performed by actual people, and this one was incredible to watch.
As for the story, I did like the way that actual historical events like the moon landing and the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown were intertwined, and explained to be the result of the U.S. and Russia's quest for Transformer technology. While there are no breakout performances in this film (and none were expected), it was a great choice and nice surprise to have Leonard Nimoy voice the traitorous Sentinel Prime. There is actually a funny foreshadowing scene involving two small Autobots watching an old episode of "Star Trek," where Spock goes crazy.
I also liked the addition of Shockwave to this crop of Decepticons, which brought out a great line from Tyrese Gibson's character asking something to the effect of why do the Decepticons get all the scary robots? Also, for all those wondering, the sexy Rosie Huntington-Whiteley does a more than adequate job filling the eye candy role left vacant by Megan Fox. Although some of her close up shots seemed to reveal enough collagen in her lips to qualify her as an honorary "Transformer."
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TRANSFORMERS 3 REVIEW - THE BAD
I don't know if it was a result of Michael Bay trying to make up for the so-so second "Transformers" film, but so much of this film, from the characters, humor and plot, felt forced, like Bay was simply trying too hard to outdo the prior movies. Unfortunately, this includes his penchant for creating annoying characters (human and robot alike). While there are no characters in "Dark of the Moon" quite as annoying as the Jar-Jar Binks-esque twin Autobots, "Skids" and "Mudflap," from "Revenge of the Fallen", there are a few that come close, including two small wise cracking Autobots that are inexplicably living on Sam's porch, rather than with the other Autobots, under government supervision. Also, Ken Jeong's annoying and bizarre Mr. Wang character is simply a carbon copy of his Mr. Chow character from the "Hangover" series, except less funny.
Also, I have no idea why Sam Witwicky's parents were even included in this film, other than to try to include another awkward sex talk scene between them and Sam that is supposed to be funny, but simply falls flat. While their inclusion in the first two films made some sense to the story and plot, the same cannot be said here (my guess is they were simply contracted for another film, so Bay was forced to find a way to include them). Further, I don't know if John Malkovich lost a bet with Michael Bay, but I can't figure out how or why he was even in this movie. His character was completely inconsequential to the plot, and a complete waste of his acting talents, and an attempted humorous scene where he interacts with Bumblebee, left me shaking my head and thinking WTF??, rather than laughing.
Further, I have no problem with long films, in fact, I enjoy them when the extra length enhances and adds to the film, but this was not the case with "Dark of the Moon," and at a 155 minutes running time, this movie is way too long. Instead of leaving the theater exhilarated, I felt exhausted (and actually a little relieved when the credits started to run). There was definitely at least 30 minutes that could have been trimmed from the first half of the film, which would have gotten us to the parts that we really wanted to see a lot faster (i.e., the transforming robots smashing the sh*t out of each other!!).
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TRANSFORMERS 3 REVIEW - THE BAD
Furthermore, while no one goes to see a "Transformers" movie for the sharp storytelling and deep plot, the story in "Dark of the Moon" has enough plot holes to drive an Autobot through, and ignores several important plot points from the prior movies. For instance, if Megatron was frozen in the Arctic Circle from at least 1897 (which, as established in the first film, is when Sam's ancestor accidentally found him), until 2007, how was he able to strike an alliance with Sentinel Prime nearly 64 years later, before Sentinel crashed on the moon in 1961?
Also, if the Decepticons secret plan for decades was to have Optimus Prime revive Sentinel Prime, (which only Optimus could do), so that Sentinel could activate the "Pillars" (which only Sentinel could do) in order to transport Cybertron, why did they intentionally kill Optimus in the second film? Also, if there were literally hundreds of Decepticons lying in wait for decades hidden under the surface of the moon, why didn't Megatron or the Fallen call on them to help wipe out the Autobots in either of the first two films? Further, if Sentinel had already allied himself with the Decepticons, why did they shoot him down in the first place, especially given his cargo? Not to mention if his ship was damaged in the final battle over Cybertron, how did he end up crashing on Earth's moon (doesn't seem like it was right around the corner)?
Finally, while I have no problem suspending my disbelief in order to enjoy most sci-fi action movies, I do tend to get a little annoyed when the laws of physics get ignored, or as in this case, completely thrown out the window. I almost started laughing when Cybertron, a planet two or three times the size of Earth, teleported into a near Earth orbit, with no apparent gravitational consequences (i.e., massive tidal waves and earthquakes that would devastate the planet!!). I actually did start laughing when Sam took down Starscream (yes, you read that right), with some sort of grappling glove device that left him swinging and being thrown around like a rag doll, to the point where his arm should have popped right off, but without so much as a dislocation or sore shoulder, he is fine a minute later and ready to take down some more Decepticons. Yes, really!!
There is more than enough action, explosions, and breath taking special effects to make "Dark of the Moon" a fun summer popcorn movie that may please a lot of fans (and probably break some box office records). However, the movie is lacking in about every other quality, and despite Michael Bay's efforts, does not even come close to surpassing the original "Transformers" film.
2 out of 5 stars
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Transformers: Dark of the Moon Movie Review is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.