Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon (2011) Review or A Reasonable Simulation
You know Michael Bay REALLY wanted to call this Dark SIDE of the Moon… They mention Pink Floyd and the album in the movie… He had plenty of other Top 40 names like Aerosmith and U2. Maybe he could have called it Toys In The Attic or something. You KNOW Aerosmith would have whored their material out if Bay had ponied up… Anyway: The Review.
Watching Michael Bay’s Transformers movies is like watching the Super Bowl. It’s a bright spectacle turned up to eleven (complete with beer ads and big breasted women on the sidelines) but it lacks in substance. I don’t care, though. Most years I watch the Super Bowl just like most everyone else.
This film is, in the end, a movie about giant robots that hit each other and turn into various types of machinery (mostly vehicles) through the filter that is Michael Bay. With Bay, you know what you’re getting.
Bay doesn’t take the proceedings serious. He’s only interested in summer blockbusters as massive in scale as they are in dopiness. He panders. He begs for a laugh. He doesn’t things like physics and reality get in the way of his story. The story and the characters are written as if by a middle schooler, but Bay is able to tell an acceptably clear story even if it’s kind of dumb. Oh, yeah… The review. Sorry.
Okay, I’ve seen Megatron die a couple of times already or so I thought, but he turns up again (voiced by Hugo Weaving) to do battle once again with Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) turns up again sans former girlfriend (Megan Fox).
Long Side Note: There is some light trashing of Fox right off the bat and Bay does his best to show that Sam has traded up with Carlie played by model turned actress (love those) Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Part of the reason Fox quit/was fired was because she didn’t like the way Bay wanted to film her. There are LOADS of hot babes in the movie, mostly serving as extras. Bay’s camera appears to leer at women in his film, except for the ones he has in the film for comedy reasons, like Julia White as Sam’s wacky mom and Frances McDormand as the butch National Security agent.
In Rosie’s case, she appears to be in a Victoria’s Secret ad for the first half of the film. In her introduction, if the camera had been any closer to her rear, it would have been firmly planted in her cheeks. If Rosie were not so damn good looking, it would have been high comedy. What? Oh, yeah. The Review…
Umm. End of Side Note.
Okay, the movie sometimes feels like a lot of loose skits. There’s the comedy bits with LaBeouf, Rosie and the actors playing Sam’s parents. There’s Sam looking for a job. There’s the much less racist Transformers than the less outing, that still speak with various accents and urban slang. There’s Turturro’s comic relief character Simmons hamming it up with McDormand and moderate talk show host Bill O’Riley. There’s Ken Jeong’s Jerry Wang (because there’s nothing funnier than Asian names that sound phallic… That’s sarcasm for the home viewers). There’s Simmons’ bodyguard/valet/decorator/whatever played by the underrated Alan Tudyk. Sam’s jealousy of Carlie’s boss (Patrick Dempsey). The episode at the White House…. It’s all tied together by robots hitting one another.
The plot as I can best describe it, is that the Decepticons are back with a plan to use these pillar-contraptions that will magnetically (or something) pull their homeworld to Earth… Apparently no one behind this film understands anything about gravitational forces. Didn’t they watch Thundarr the Barbarian as kids? That was just a comet passing by, but still… So, where was I? Oh. There’s a new villain or two. Leonard Nimoy voices a very important Autobot.
And Shockwave FINALLY makes an appearance in the trilogy. I had to wait this long and he really doen’t do a whole lot. Doesn’t Bay know that Shockwave was one of the coolest Transformers turning into that massive gun? ( MY neighbor owned Shockwave. I was so jealous as a kid).
That’s all you need to know. The people in the film aren’t really that important to the events of the movie, much like the people in Super 8. You would think the writers of massive summer blockbusters would use a little more imagination in trying to make the lead human characters important to the plot instead of using them to set up jokes, be victims and explain what’s going on in the story.
LeBouf on the other hand seemed to be high on coke the entire film giving one of the more unnecessarily manic performances I’ve ever seen in a film. He screams inappropriately in scene after scene, whether giant robots are present or not.
Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as Lennox and Simmons (or is it Simmons and Lennox?) are two of the more needless characters in the movie(s). They really contributed nothing as far as story goes. The ‘team’ that consists of those two and the 101st Airborne as well as some Navy SEALs contributed nothing valuable to the movie(s). The big reluctant black guy that was there for comedy purposes was one of the bigger FAILs of the film.
The music deserves to be mentioned. Bay’s films usually consist of nauseatingly mainstream rock and this is no different. I actually liked quite a few of these songs, but in many cases, they were being used to provide the emotion of the film, because the story wasn’t. Sometimes they were interfering with what was being said. The music in the introduction of Carlie with Sam was drowning out there conversation, but I guess Bay was too busy filming Rosie’s rear to notice any dialogue.
If there is one really good thing about Transformers 3, it is the standard Bay visuals. There is a hotness to the cinematography and I don’t mean just the cheesecake in the movie. The cinematography is hyper clear. The textures are almost tactile. People are always sweating (it really does look hot) and bleeding. Decepticons spew fluids while they speak. Despite what Roger Ebert said and despite all of the leering, it’s a beautiful film.
The CGI artists also did a magnificent job matching the Transformers with the lighting of their surroundings. It’s far superior to your general CGI summer movie hack job that you see in films like GI:JOE. There was a small army of CGI animators and it shows onscreen.
So to sum up: Lots of good CGI devoid of physics. Turturro’s funny. LeBeouf coked up. Rosie’s hot. And… Michael Bay’s responsible. I know there’s a lot of anti-Bay sentiment out there (and it probably seems like this review is part of that), but as far as summer movies go, Bay delivers on spectacle. Maybe they lack in story and character, but he almost makes up for it with the eye candy.
This probably doesn’t read like a ringing endorsement, but I enjoyed myself right down to the hammy speech by Optimus Prime at the end and the epilogue was worthy of a big smile. It ain’t Shakespeare, but if you like movies based on toy lines with loud explosions, sexy women and a small dose of politcal incorrectness, then you might like this. I did.