DIRECTOR: Michael Bay.
CAST: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Peter Cullen (voice), Tyrese Gibson, Alan Tudyk, Leonard Nimoy (voice), John Malkovich, Julie White, Ken Jeong, Kevin Dunn, Hugo Weaving (voice).
SYNOPSIS: Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) is living an easier existence with a steady girlfriend (Huntington-Whiteley) and no Decepticon disruptions. But when a colleague (Jeong) at his new job tells him about the secrets of the Moon Landing to coverup a Cybertronian spacecraft, Sam finds himself in the middle of a race between his Autobot friends and Decepticon enemies to reach it first.
Oh Michael Bay, where do I even begin..
Transformers: Dark of the Moon does exactly what you’d expect. It gives you Shia LaBeouf accompanied by another ridiculously beautiful girlfriend on another crazy adventure with best mate Bumblebee and friends. If you’re looking for mindless action, hot girls and shiny metalwork then you already know this film’s for you. If you’re looking for more, you won’t find it here. Summer blockbuster it is, in-depth and philosophical it ain’t. But hey, why break with tradition.
When the first film arrived back in 2007 it had a great story to tell and remains head and shoulders above the rest of the trilogy because of this simple fact. This surely had a great deal to do with Steven Spielberg directing over Bay’s shoulder and ultimately having less involvement with parts two and three due to his own huge projects – Tintin, War Horse and Super 8 to name but a few of the big ones. LaBeouf did what was asked of him admirably, obviously having a massive effect on Spielberg who subsequently cast him in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. I have to admit there is something about LaBeouf I really enjoy watching, but the first film was the only one where he had a proper chance to make his mark due to the latter two being extremely fight heavy. Not that I’m complaining, mind, as the plot isn’t really relevant. At the end of the day, all we really want to see is the Autobots reign supreme over those dastardly Decepticons.
The biggest achievement of this film is the use of 3D and I’d go so far as to say it’s the best since Avatar. Quite a feat, I’m sure you’ll agree. Whether utilising base jumpers, the snakelike Decepticon tails or throwing Sam in your face on more than one occasion (watch out for him being thrown from a transforming car – it’s a little bit special), it’s screamingly apparent how much Bay wanted this project to be a game changer in regards to the current 3D market. And Team Bay have done a truly remarkable job. The depth it adds to the majority of scenes is simply incredible. They have also seen to it that this film remains bright, a problem with a lot of 3D films post-Avatar. Or should I say post-converted. Eurgh. When glancing over my glasses at points throughout, the brightness was nearly a complete match, guaranteeing Bumblebee is as yellow as possible and the shine off Carly’s (Huntington-Whiteley) legs gets the best reaction possible.
Talking of Carly, how exactly does Rosie Huntington-Whiteley shape up? Shape being the optimum word with a body that the camera devours, reiterating exactly why she is a Victoria’s Secret model. Her British accent works to her advantage, making your ears automatically prick up at those clipped tones, but she isn’t a lot more than scenery. In a more meaty role I don’t know how she’d fare, but merely due to the Box Office success of this installment it’s more than likely she’ll get her chance. If nothing more, it’s made the world aware she’s not just Megan Fox’s replacement.
She even comes off slightly better, although it may be sacrilege to say, than John Malkovich’s character who is barely used and feels merely like a glorified cameo. And although crazy is what we love Malkovich for, in this film it may be slightly the wrong side of crazy. The ever kooky Frances McDormand does the unexpected and in fact turns it down a notch giving the strongest and most believable performance in this sea of crazy. Although she does allow herself the odd laugh (and too right), most will go to John Turturro’s Simmons, a complete caricature who Turturro obviously loves playing. His sidekick Dutch (Tudyk) steals the show however. The ever reliable Alan Tudyk (one of the most underrated actors working) has only a few lines, but grabs our attention and makes a big impression. Stellar work from him as always, but I’d expect nothing less.
Sam’s parents (White and Dunn) fare badly again, with Judy not being anywhere near as fun as she was in the first outing. No pot brownies this time around. Lennox (Duhamel) and Epps (Gibson) won’t be the characters you remember, either, even if they are involved in the bulk of the film. It’s very interesting to note how it’s in fact the cameos that have the biggest effect. Malkovich’s may be completely bonkers, but you’ll remember it. Tudyk’s hilarious as already mentioned and seeing Ken Jeong in anything outside The Hangover is always an absolute treat. He may seem like he’s acting in a completely different film as Jerry Wang, but his short time on-screen (involving LaBeouf and a toilet cubicle) is typical Jeong and will make you laugh whether you want to or not. And you wonder why he’s Judd Apatow’s go to guy?!
The newest addition to the Autobot clan is Sentinel Prime, Leonard Nimoy’s amazing voice complimenting Optimus Prime’s (Cullen) to perfection. The two of them are the main protagonists in some of the best fight scenes cinema has ever had to boast, with Bay quite obviously still a child at heart, his films constructed from all the things little boys are made of. If the car chase doesn’t sum up everything a guy’s ever truly wanted in a film, I don’t know what does.
Dark of the Moon is a walking contradiction, a glorious mess if you will. It’s a film with some extremely shaky supporting players (both robot and human), a story that jumps all over the place and some laughable and exceptionally cheesy moments. The fight scenes are welcome relief from the discomfort that’s often felt during the dialogue, especially with those annoying mini sidekick robots that I’m sure the kids probably love. There’s way too much going on to keep tabs on what is actually happening and for the most part a horrible script, but the effects are unbelievably jaw dropping, captivating and in completely worthwhile 3D. I have every suspicion Michael Bay knows that’s what he’s done, targeting a generally younger audience rather than pitching it specifically at those who remember the original Transformers series. And it’s made the franchise lose a lot of fans.
But on the other hand Dark of the Moon ticks all the summer blockbuster boxes. I can guarantee the last half an hour will have you struggling to keep your jaw off the floor. It’s crazy, mindless, full throttle entertainment at its best. The kids won’t follow the script too well (and you probably won’t either..), but it won’t matter. They’ll still know who’s winning the fight. Michael and Shia may not be back for any more adventures with Bumblebee and co, but in a summer full of superheroes, the Autobots and Decepticons are a welcome change.