Directed By: Michael Bay
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LeBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Peter Cullen, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey, Francis McDormand, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn, Ken Jeong
Studio: Paramount, Hasbro
Review by: Matt Peters
There’s no doubt that this installment of Transformers has a lot of making up to do for Revenge of the Fallen. After a strong first outing by Michael Bay, fans were left disappointed with his 2009 follow up. After the horrible characters, terrible acting and lack of a real story, is it possible that this third film in the franchise can be the best so far?
The plot of Dark of the Moon alleges that during the great war of Cybertron, a ship crashed onto the Earth’s moon in 1961. Eight years later, a team of astronauts head up to covertly explore exactly what landed. They find the huge ship containing dozens of robots and amazing alien technology the country has kept the secret for years, and now the Autobots must decide who to trust and how to deal with a new plot by the evil Decepticons.
The robots in disguise don’t disappoint this time around either. The action is intense, as has come to be expected from Michael Bay. There are some very cool moments here involving wanton destruction of both robots and landmarks alike. Fans of God of War should keep an eye on Autobot Mirage (the Ferrari 458 Italia).
Slow-motion is still very present, and explosions occur in every possible way. Disappointingly, the 3D didn’t add much to the film, and seemed completely forgotten about at times. This was a missed opportunity with this type of movie to say the least. The best bet is to ditch the glasses and grab an extra snack from the concession stand.
Mudflap and Skids, the controversial characters from the second film, are nowhere to be seen, thankfully. Their “comedic” relief slot is filled by the significantly less annoying Wheelie and Brains. Speaking of comedy, there were actually a couple of moments where I found myself laughing at intended jokes, and not just groaning uncomfortably.
Shia LaBeouf did more in this film than the first two installments combined. In the span of the movie’s two-and-a-half hours, Sam Witwicky handles firearms, throws punches, and even does some parkour. That being said, the events that transpire also do a good job of making Sam a more sympathetic character with real problems. He brings up the point that he’s saved the world twice, and still can’t find a job. It’s almost as if LaBeouf and his character both had something to prove this time around.
Missing from this installment is Megan Fox. She was replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Fortunately, the new character Carly did a wonderful job filling the role of Sam’s unreasonably attractive lady friend. Yes, she still runs and bends over for no apparent reason, but she conveys the idea that she’s enjoying herself while doing it. On a few occasions, she was even called on to perform dialogue, which she did with no serious issues.
The rest of the cast was filled out by actors of various backgrounds and skill levels. Cameos by Ken Jeong, John Malkovich and even Buzz Aldrin were well executed. Long time sci-fi favorite, Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Serenity) plays the eccentric personal assistant of the returning John Tuturro. Even Leonard Nimoy rocked as former Autobot leader, Sentinel Prime. There were a couple of subtle and not-so-subtle nods to Nimoy’s Spock character that garnered laughs from the crowd. While none of them delivered Oscar-worthy performances, it seemed like the actors were having a good time.
Surprisingly, Transformers: Dark of the Moon stands up to the competition from the rest of this season’s sci-fi/superhero fare. No one should go into this movie expecting an award-caliber story. It is a loosely tied together tale that’s purpose is to get to the next series of explosions. For a movie about giant robots tearing up Chicago, it has a surprising amount of heart. Maybe it’s because Revenge of the Fallen set the bar so low, but Michael Bay has delivered one hell of a fun popcorn summer flick.
For more info, www.transformersmovie.com
Pads & Panels received access to an early press screening of the film courtesy of the studio for review purposes.