Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

 It physically pains me that Transformers:Dark of the Moon is already the top grossing movie of 2011. Why is it so inexplicably popular? Well the movie has some well filmed action sequences, nice use of 3D for once, and there are hot chicks, robots, and explosions. If that’s all you want from a movie then go see this, if not, then don’t. It’s as simple as that really. Transformers Dark of The Moon has all the typical strengths and all the many flaws of every other Michael Bay film , so if you liked the previous two, this one is a fraction better than those.
When robots get old, they grow mustaches.


The set up of Transformers Dark of Moon is simple enough. On the planet Cybertron we see an Autobot space ship duck and weaved its way through Deception forces in an opening action sequence and we are informed that this ship contains the 'pillars' - some sort of robot super-weapon capable of turning the tide in the robot civil war. However, the ship is heavily damaged and lost to the depths of space until it eventually crashes on earth’s moon during the cold war. Its arrival is noticed by both the Soviet Union and the U.S.A who subsequently begin the space race in order to prevent the enemy getting their hands on the alien technology. The U.S.A gets there first, but the Soviets send unmanned probes to explore as well. Both grab some alien booty, but neither manage to find the ‘pillars’ leaving them stranded on the moon to this day. 

If like me at this point you’re thinking ‘sounds good’, prepare for disappointment. Whilst we get a cool outer-spacey sequence and a whole alternate history/government conspiracy angle the momentum the movie builds quickly dissipates within a matter of seconds: enter Shia LaBeouf. For me the worst parts of the Transformers film franchise has always been the human characters and the insane amount of screen time they get compared to the robots themselves. I mean, they’re in the title of the movie, you'd think they'd get some screen time, but instead they get pushed into the background in favor of the continuously boring/annoying Sam Witwickey. Oh how he tries so hard to be funny. The whole next part of the movie concerns itself with him trying to be funny. Most of the humor deriving from how much of a failure Sam is. We see him awkwardly try to impress his girl friend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replacing Megan Fox), we see him fail miserably in job interviews, and we observe his hilarious interactions with his small comedy robot sidekicks, one of whom sings ‘We Are Family’. These are all some of the un-funniest things I’ve ever seen in movie. The only one who comes close to coaxing a laugh is John Malkovic as Sam’s new, slightly insane boss. 
What's she staring at?...Shia LaBeouf's massive ego.
 In the meantime the Autobots learn of the crashed ship on the moon and attempt to rescue the valuable cargo along with its captain, their former leader, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy). Back on earth Sam, feeling rather insignificant because of his menial job, receives a mysterious tip-off about the moon from an ex-NASA employed co-worker, but before the co-worker can say more he’s assassinated  by his TV. (I should point out his TV is a Decepticon, it didn’t just start spontaneously killing people). To discover the truth about the secrets on the moon Sam teams up with retired government agent Seymour Simmons(John Turturro). Once again, instead of trying to build some sort of characterisation the characters spend all of their screen time either trying to be funny, or looking deadly serious.  
 
Of course eventually they figure out what’s going on and try to inform the Autobots before it’s too late, but just as they get there it seems our heroes aren’t in time to save the day. The Autobots are all killed by Starscream, the Decepticons make Chicago their base of fascist-robot operations, and then of course the Autobots come back and start an epic battle that lasts an hour of screen time because seriously, if you thought they were really dead clearly you've been living on the dark side of the moon.

Parking really is a bitch for the Decepticons.

The battle is easily described by words like epic and huge and over the top, exactly what you want from a summer action movie. But the characters whose lives are at stake are all robots who are so underdeveloped they generate no compassion – and then there are the transformers who are also under developed and generate no compassion, meaning there’s nothing at stake emotionally in the battle. Whilst it looks impressive – more impressive than any of the other battles in the series –  it still feels flat and lifeless. 

All in all if you liked the previous two transformers movies, you’ll probably like this one more. It’s the best of the series and if you think that’s a compliment then be sure to go see it. If you didn’t like the previous two movies, then you’ll probably prefer being on the dark side of the moon to watching it.


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