Saturday, July 2, 2011
Movie Review: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
After the complete let down that was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, director Michael Bay is back with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, sans-Megan Fox, and while not as good as the original Transformers, Dark of the Moon manages to pack enough thrills and emotion into its two and a half hour frame to be more than Summer movie drivel.
In 1961, an Autobot spacecraft crashlanded on the far side of the moon, sparking the space race between the Soviets and the United States. While Dark of the Moon rewrites some history, the whole shebang gains some credibility when the real Buzz Aldrin makes a cameo to talk to the Autobots about the real reason him and Neil Armstrong went to the moon in 1969. As it is, this spaceship held ancient Cybertronian technology that, if in the hands of the villainous Decepticons, could mean the end of all humanity.
Meanwhile, we catch back up with Shia LaBeouf's lovable everyman Sam Witwicky. In the first Transformers, Sam went from being a boy to a man through his getting a car that just happened to be a transformer. Film two did nothing to advance the character further, but this film finds Sam fresh out of college, no job, no government clearance, even though he has saved the world two times in the past and has a medal from the President to prove it. Sam wants to do something that matters, like he did when he was working alongside the Autobots saving the planet. At least he has his new girlfriend, Carly, played by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely, who is ogled by Michael Bay's camera every chance it gets, however she surprisingly has some real acting chops and delivers a far more likable performance than Megan Fox ever did. The romance between Sam and Carly is actually portrayed believably through Huntington-Whiteley's hot attitude and LaBeouf's great sense of goofy comedic timing, making it logical that a girl like that would fall for a guy like Sam Witwicky. Together she helps him realize that through their relationship, that this is what matters, and not being a hero.
As it is, the action is all top notch, even through the final hour of nonstop explosions and metal crunching leaving little time to know what happens to these characters post-apocalypse rescue. Bringing us around to the length of this movie. Two and a half hours is a long time to watch transformers duke it out. I love that the humans got more to do this time around, but the movie really wears itself long, and could have been more impactful had some of the usual Michael Bay gags been toned down a bit more. Much more time was spent on gags, when that time could have been used to help flesh out the underdeveloped relationship between Optimus Prime and new badguy, Sentinel Prime. Even still, majority of the gags are funny, however Ken Jeong's whole character was flat out annoying, luckily he was only in the movie for three minutes, enough time to dispense a plot point and get killed by a Decepticon. As for other new cast members, John Malkovich as Sam's new boss ultimately goes nowhere other than a few unnecessary gags, however Frances McDormand is highly enjoyable as the government agent in charge of the Autobots, and Patrick Dempsey plays an intriguing human chameleon working for the Decepticons.
With everything said and done, Transformers: Dark of the Moon could have done with a little trimming of some of the gags that don't necessarily add to the primary theme of Sam's journey through this story, however the action is superb, and many of the gags are quite funny. As well, the movie emotionally involves you in the story between Carly and Sam, and the connection between Sam and his transforming car, Bumblebee, is just as poignant as it was when Sam tried to save Bumblebee from the government in film one; when the transformers fly off in their rocket ship and Sam and Bumblebee must part ways, it's gut wrenching! Even at two and a half hours long, viewers will enthrall to this adventure that blends metal with heart and makes for an enjoyable trip to the movies.
I give Transformers: Dark of the Moon a B!