Warning: In the following review, I will go over some plot points briefly that may or may not affect your enjoyment of the overall story (i.e. “spoilers”). After the review, I will share some thoughts and concerns that will undoubtedly contain spoilers in a separate post. Read at your own risk.
Well they did it. It seems like every property since the Star Wars prequels and Jackson’s LotR flicks double-teamed us in the early oughts has received a trilogy at the very least. And here we are already at the third installment in the Transformers franchise from director Michael Bay. I watched it last Saturday and have given it some time to sink in. So with the last piece of the current vision of Transformers behind us, does the new film make up for the lackluster reviews of Revenge of the Fallen? Come, friends. Rap with me.
Okay, I’m one of the people who really hated on Revenge of the Fallen. I don’t really like to yell out my opinions much on boards like TFW2005 or anything, but if any of my friends were to ask me, I would have said it was pretty, about 30 minutes too long, and some of the characters were pretty annoying.
Well, Dark of the Moon definitely reflects some of those same qualities. It’s still far too long, with unnecessary characters that seemed to not do a whole heckuva lot and were just there for the sake of a cameo or selling a toy. While they weren’t really annoying this time around (thank you Wheelie), they really just stretched out what was otherwise a very straightforward plot of good versus evil.
I won’t go into too much detail here (see the thoughts section below); I will say that the plot borrows heavily from the G1 cartoon in both subject matter and feel, hinging on the Decepticons being nasty and tricksy and the Autobots having to suffer the stupidity of humans for the sake of peace. You may recognize some plot elements you’ve seen before, but it’s solid enough to get you to the action, which is really what you go to a Michael Bay movie for anyway.
It’s funny at the appropriate times, no Bumblebee “lubricating” on Agent Simmons this time around. Which is a good thing, mind. What little dialogue the Autobots do have seems true to the characters. I was hoping in vain (again) that the robots would get some more personality and at the very least have some strategic input or at least witty banter to help personify them at least a little more than Kitt from Knight Rider, but alas this is still a Bayformers project and it’s not to be found.
The only other thing I have to say about the writing is that this is the first time I really felt like the Decepticons were a true threat to humanity. The public locations, the speech, the wanton destruction and violence really drive home the brutality of the Decepticons and in my opinion shows exactly the sort of villains you’ve been waiting to see in this series.
Megatron actually comes off a bit too soft, if you ask me. Compared to his minions, he’s kind of a lightweight in the “BA” department. It works okay, but I think he’s portrayed a little too desperate without good reason. Megatron isn’t above groveling for mercy or being weak at important moments, but usually it’s because he’s disabled or wounded in some way. Here he seems like kind of a background character compared to the other Decepticons.
Starscream is much more interesting this time around, coming off as a second-in-command who reminds the audience why Megatron bothers keeping him around. Fast, cruel, and a capable fighter, he is given quite a bit more personality in DotM.
Shia Labeouf gets the job done as Sam again. You’ll notice from the get-go that Sam seems a lot more grown up in this installment, which ranges from him acting a bit less scared to coming off as an entitled dickhead. I really didn’t like him toward the beginning of the movie because of that attitude, but as his relationship with Carly is explored more he becomes much more bearable and even likeable and heroic toward the end. Much less a kid who gets stuck in the action and more of a hero in his own right.
Speaking of Carly, I really didn’t think Rosie Huntington-Whiteley did all that bad a job on her first movie set. She screamed at the right times, said sexy things when she needed to and left the audience wondering what the hell she was doing dating a loser like Sam. Pretty much standard fare for a Bay film, and I actually liked her character a lot more than Megan Fox’s Mikaela Banes. She’s smarter, relies less on her clothing to be sexy and more on her performance, and generally seems like a much better fit for Sam, which is also true to the OG Carly.
Of the new human characters, I had no use for John Malkovich, who seemed like an add-on for the sake of adding on. He shows up, acts weird like John Malkovich and disappears for about 20 minutes only to show up for a nice Deus Ex Machina. Sadly, as much as I hate to say it, the character Dutch (despite being played by the immensely under-rated and talented Alan Tudyk) didn’t really need to be there either, mostly just to seem a little funny. Frances McDormand is excellent as always and also felt like a necessary addition to the cast. She brings such an air of professionalism to the cast that she really steals every scene she’s in, no matter how trivial. In fact, she pulls off her limited dialogue so well that I would have traded most of the human characters for a little more backstory on her. She’s got more to her than meets the eye.
Yeah. I said it. Kinda threw up in my mouth a bit for being that guy, but hey. I have no defense.
Agent Simmons. Sigh. I love me some John Turturro, but this character is done. I think they just really needed somebody to say that line in the trailer about where you were when the Decepticons blah blah blah.
Sam’s Mom and Dad show up again for their little one-liners, then apparently sit in a mobile home for a week outside of Sam’s apartment waiting for their next lines of dialogue. Not bad or anything, just kind of not there.
Peter Cullen pulls off the same Optimus Prime he has for the last few years, which I think sometimes comes off as a bit sillier than his G1 counterpart. He’s still cool and that voice is as killer as it ever is. You might see him in a slightly darker role this time around in the waning hours of the human race. It’s an interesting evolution of the character, and they definitely gave him the appropriate reverence for Sentinel Prime.
Sentinel Prime is old as hell and acts like a crazy old war vet does, perhaps lacking some of the conviction of the heroes you see in documentaries about WWI and beyond. To be honest though, it’s not fair to judge his demeanor or actions the same way. He hasn’t had the benefit of hindsight, to him the war has been waged for millennia and he’s woken up still smack-dab in the middle of it. An interesting character at first, I did kind of lose interest in him later. More on that in a bit.
I loved Patrick Dempsey’s character Dylan. Very classic, in my opinion.
The action is insane and awesome, with most of the characters doing the cool things you expect and with the versatility of an entire metropolitan city’s landscape for the final battle.
As I said, the Decepticons are brutal this time around and are not afraid to show it. Blood or motor oil or whatever you want to call it does show up this time around, so be prepared for some CG violence for smaller kids. But hey, don’t forget that your favorite movies when you were a kid were Robocop, Aliens, and Predator. Don’t be a prude, dude.
The only negative I have is in the design department. The Decepticons for whatever reason are all still dirty grey or black and as John made mention all look like they’re made of scissors. PS, I told my brother that and he ROFLed.
Anyway, it does sometimes still get a little confusing as to which villain is which, but there are only so many you really need to keep track of. I’m pretty sure most of the battles were fought in the day, which does help.
If you think overcoming the action of the first two flicks is a tall order, I have to say that Bay filled it in my opinion. Everything was smooth, cool, and in your face.
Finally, they do address the age-old Transformers question: What happens to human passengers when Transformers transform?
I gotta say, all things considered I loved it. I think I did that thing again where I bag on something for a half-hour only to tell you it’s good. Sorry ‘bout that, but there’s just still something about giant transforming robots that appeals to the kid in me.
The acting is well-done for a Bay picture and each character accomplishes their roles however silly they may be. We get some interesting new characters and the action is insane.
While this doesn’t really end with a true sense of finality (in fact it feels eerily similar to the first one’s ending), it does feel like some things have changed for the Autobots and Decepticons and I’ll be interested to see where they go if the series continues.
As the new world record of being the fastest to gross 500 million dollars, I don’t think we’ll have to wait too long for word on another sequel.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a movie. Watch the darned thing.
Are they gone? Like seriously, cuz we gotta talk here.
And now for my SPOILER thoughts and opinions. Click the box to open: