I saw Transformers 3 on its opening weekend. I’m pretty glad I got it out of the way. The preview tells the story:
Released June 29, 2011
Written by Ehren Kruger
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Frances McDormand, John Turturro (wasted again), and Tyrese Gibson (along with most of the population of the world)
* * * *
I’ll say it once, now, and never speak of it again. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley acted better than Megan Fox, but her mouth seems so alien-large that it was very distracting.
On with my review.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is of such significantly better quality than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that you kind of wish you could erase the knowledge of #2 from your brain. The story is strangely cohesive; the action is at least 50% motivated by the story and characters; the emotional impact is significantly increased; and the acting, while still over the top, is motivated by the stratospherically high stakes and is not bad. It helps that Rosie, playing the part of Carly, has a naturalness to her acting that is far less distracting than Megan Fox’s odd opacity.
The story of this film melds as well as it can into real history. It turns out that part of the moon mission was to investigate a crash landing that some alien ship made onto the moon. Footage and sound files of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon are spliced in rather deftly, along with other historical footage. During that mission, the US took possession of some item that was of extreme importance to the civil war being waged on the transformers’ planet of Cybertron.
So the Decepticons and Autobots are once again on a race to gain possession of a certain item, but now they must also try to get the item’s creator to help them. This creator is called Sentinel Prime and he is an Autobot. He is also voiced by Leonard freaking Nimoy.
And that’s all the story I can tell you, because anything else would be spoilers.
Part of why Dark of the Moon is so much more effective than #2 is that it starts right. After the back story is laid out, we start back with Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) and his desperate attempts to get a job. The pleasant relationship between him and Carly is not forced, but is quite nice actually. Sam is peeved that after helping to save the world TWICE, he doesn’t seem to have any abilities that an employer would care to look at.
Sam needs to be needed, and this need is a nice motivator for how uncorked he becomes as the movie goes along. You actually understand why he’s so intense and keyed up.
Then there’s Patrick Dempsey, who plays charming and slimy and does a nice job of it. His villain role is a little forgotten in the motivation department, because really, (slight spoiler alert) what human would actually want machines to take over his world? Hasn’t he seen The Matrix or Terminator?
The action is loud, long and big. Some of it is remarkably beautiful. The snake/tentacled thing with the building, Optimus wading into battle, Bumblebee saving some important folks– these are excellent bits. The BASE jumpers are also a nice touch- and it’s nice to know that most of that footage is of real BASE jumpers doing a real jump.
Yes, I still had a slight headache coming out of this film. Yes, it’s still quite silly, really, if you think about the premise for longer than a minute or two. Yes, Shia LaBeouf ought to go for some indie fare for a couple of years. And very yes, John Turturro is so thoroughly wasted in these films.
However, all in all, this film is semi-solid. It doesn’t redeem #2 per se, but it does show that Michael Bay can have a very deft touch when he tries (I’m looking at YOU Bad Boys).
Content warnings: Lots of Transformer violence, explosions, hairy situations. Pretty intense stuff. Some harsh language.
Writing: 3 Acting: 3.5 Overall: 3
Don’t believe me? See if my review matches those on Rotten Tomatoes.
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