Autobots and Decepticons have been in our world for a lot longer than we realise, or so Transformers: Dark of the Moon tells us. The space race in the 1960s was a competition between the Americans and the Russians to find an Autobot spacecraft that had crash landed on the dark side of the moon. However, because Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did not know what they were looking for, they failed to discover the comatose body of Sentinel Prime (Optimus’s predecessor) within the ship. As usual, the Decepticons want to destroy the earth/rebuild Cybertron, and it is up to Sam (LeBeouf), the Autobots and an eccentric team of humans to try and stop them.
I always hold out a little bit of hope for the Transformers movies. Even after the disappointment of Revenge of the Fallen, I went into this one with an open mind. Seems I should have just given up. Transformers: The Dark of the Moon suffers from the same problems as it’s predecessor; it is too long, too complex; it’s a hot mess and we just don’t care.
Yes, the thrill is still there of seeing some pretty sexy automobiles turn into some impressive robots, but that is about all there is. The story takes so many twists and turns to get to a pretty simple conclusion that it completely loses the audience along the way. It seems that there is the belief that Transformers movies have to be convoluted and complicated for the audience to buy into them, when in fact the opposite is true.
There is plenty to look at in the film, pretty cars and pretty people. There are also some fairly impressive – if entirely OTT and slightly confusing – action sequences. Watching the freeway chase, it appears that Michael Bay is trying his best to wreck everything, literally, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he is the type of person to flip over a table full of drinks, just because he has the budget to do it.
Shia LeBeouf is incredibly annoying. His character – Sam – has been given a little more personality, but instead of making him endearing to the audience, he is arrogant, angry and aggressive. Any audience sympathy that had been developed for him in the previous films just drains away. The first shot of Rosie Huntington-Whitley is of her shapely behind, and that sets the tone for her character. We never discover much about her, she is used for eye candy and eye candy alone. The problem with that is, what is wrong with her lips? She has a fantastic body – she is a lingerie model after all – but her lips look like a combination of a ducks beak and a fishy pout. Horribly distracting stuff. Thank god she wasn’t given much acting to do.
There are some nice little cameos; Buzz Aldrin turns up (not shouting at the moon this time though, sadly) as do Ken Jeong, John Malkovich, Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand and – the appearance that will keep Firefly fans happy – Alan Tudyk. Of course John Turturro showed his face, as did Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Sam’s parents.
The special effects have got better and better with each of the Transformers movies, and this one is perhaps the most technologically advanced we have seen so far. The actors are actually given the chance to interact with the robots, and there are moments that are visually amazing. That said, however, it is still difficult to tell which robot is which during the action sequences – unless they are bright yellow like Bumblebee – and why Megatron has a cape (and where it came from) defies all logic. Michael Bay also seems to have developed OCD for slow motion sequences, there are too many to count through the film, with the result that instead of enhancing the action, they distract from it. The 3D is completely superfluous and wearing 3D glasses for 2 hours and 37 minutes is enough to turn anyone off the experience.
Slim down the story, cut the massively bloated running time, make sure that stuff transforms and stuff blows up and you have a happy audience. We are not expecting a David Lynch film, but somehow – with Transformers: Dark of the Moon – that is what we have got. And that is not a compliment, Mr Bay. (I love you, David Lynch)
At the end of everything, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is about an hour too long, the story is far too complicated and drawn out and it relies on characters that we really do not care about to carry it. As well as this, the fight scenes make little or no sense, there is an air of racism and misogyny to the whole thing and while it seems like a good idea to include American (and Ukranian) history, manipulated to suit the so called story of the film, it actually comes off as being disrespectful to events, the past and the mythology of the nations.
Go and see it, if you must, but leave your brain at the door.