231st Movie Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

A feast for the eyes, but a slight headache at the same time

Dark of the Moon should’ve been the direct sequel of the first Transformers movie. The story has a big impact to the franchise and is at least a little satisfying. Yes it’s flawed, but it’s a solid blockbuster movie nonetheless.

I often end up watching awful movies during my birthday (I watched The Happening in 2009). And after seeing Revenge of the Fallen, I pretty much had VERY LOW expectations for this installment. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Director Michael Bay obviously learned from his mistakes. And even though he occasionally made the same errors (poor editing and the likes), he made a valiant effort to make the story sensible.

Dark of the Moon began with a CG introduction narrated by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). He told of an Ark that escaped from the war-torn planet of Cybertron, the home of the Transformers (Still, we never find out how they were born). It crash landed on Earth’s moon back in the early ’60s, and was one of the ‘hidden’ reasons why President Kennedy wanted to reach the moon first before Russia.

The film then went back to the life of Sam Witwicky (Shia Labouf), now a fresh grad from college and seemed to be a little bored because his days as a CIA agent/hero were over. He becomes some kind of boy toy for Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), a former British embassy employee who replaced Megan Fox as his girlfriend, and fills the role quite well.

Complications arose when the Autobots discovered some Decepticons roaming around Chernobyl. They uncovered an old piece from a wrecked ship that landed 50 years ago which used to carry Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nemoy), one of the greatest and smartest Autobots who led them during the great war on Cybertron.

Slowly, the human characters are introduced. There were newcomers like Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), Bruce (John Malkovich), Jerry Wong (Ken Jeong) and Mearing (Francis McDormand), and some recurring characters like Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Epps (Tyrese Gibson) were back to save the world from the evil intentions of the Decepticons.

As you watch the film, it’s impossible not to be wowed by the breathtaking CG effects. You could really see where the budget for this movie went. Every scene looked expensive and for the first time in a long while, the 3D effects were actually visible.

I admit though that the story is a little hard to follow if you don’t pay attention. Some scenes that you think are just fillers actually involved some of the most important details, so if you didn’t catch them, prepare for a massive headache. At least now you could actually tell what’s going on in every scene. Michael Bay fortunately contained himself to prevent the film from get any bigger or more complicated. As a result he was able to deliver the story quite well – something he is not best known for. But that doesn’t mean the overall story was great, just that it’s better than the first two films.

When the Autobots aren’t fighting, they put on a car show and when they dodge incoming missiles, everything slows down for you to catch every single detail that animators worked hard on. Also, the way they attempted to incorporate history using real footage was solid. It was done very well during the reenactment of a suspected conspiracy involving the discovery of alien life on the moon, the core reason why this movie exists.

Moving on to the second half, the post-apocalyptic feel changed the film altogether. I felt the story getting more serious and (gasp!) getting more interesting. Still, I felt more emotion between Bumblebee and Sam than with Sam and Carly. Also, the number of betrayals in this movie was unbelievable!

Now let’s take a look at the flaws. Carly wasn’t even scratched throughout the film and her clothes still looked like they were dry-cleaned. Also, she kept changing from heels to flats during the long action scenes (the females I was with were the one who observed this). Although Megatron still seems like he’s got some gas left in the tank, he appeared weak against Optimus Prime. With all the hype from the start of the movie, I was expecting some kind of epic clash between those two robots. I also didn’t understand why he kept wearing a scarf (watch it again if you dare!).

Moving on to the cast. Shia Labouf was okay, but quite forgettable. Huntington-Whiteley can act. She was clearly more comfortable working with Bay (who absolutely knows how to film hot chicks) than Fox was; although I kind of miss her. The critics were a little too harsh on her, but I agree on her not being outstanding. Among the supporting cast, Patrick Dempsey was the best, but there wasn’t a lot of room for them to act anyway as fight scenes filled the screens most of the time.

Transformers 3 is a film where you can actually find a good story— underneath all the clutter and excess baggage. It’s a little long compared to your average blockbuster (not even them Pirates films can top it) and it gets a little tiring at the end. Critics will obviously hate this movie for unequivocal reasons. But hey, if you decided to watch this movie then I guess you weren’t looking for a story anyway. So sit back and prepare for an exhilarating 154-minute visual journey.

GRADE: B-

I agreed with the MINORITY

Directed by Michael Bay

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