Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen was a bad film. I’m sorry but it had to be said. You know it, I know it, Michael Bay knows it and Shia LaBeouf knows it. While I enjoyed the first Transformers a lot, the sequel left a bitter taste in my mouth and so I was hesitant as I walked into my screening of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. After seeing all the trailers and reading all the previews, I was ready for one thing. I was ready for Michael Bay to blow my mind, and blow my mind he did.
Boasting easily the best plot of the series, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon takes us back to 1961 during the war for Cybertron between the Autobots and Decepticons. With the odds stacked against our heroes, Sentinel Prime launches a ship called the Ark from their home planet. The Ark contains incredibly advanced technology that can help the Autobots win their war once and for all. Unfortunately, Prime’s plan doesn’t work out too well and while in orbit, the Ark is attacked by Starscream and it crashes on the moon.
We are then treated to a brief glimpse of the famous space race between the US and Russia. By 1969, NASA has put the first man on the moon. What most people don’t know though is that the mission was actually an excuse to investigate the Ark and find out what it’s hiding and what its purpose is.
As we cut to the present, our protagonist Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is living with his beautiful girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). Sam has a seemingly normal life but misses the days of being a hero and saving the world, he wants to “matter” again. Lucky for him, he’s about to get another chance to protect his beloved planet.
The Ark’s true purpose is soon discovered and the secrets that it holds are revealed to both the Autobots and Decepticons. For fear of spoiling too much, let’s just say that Sam’s story collides with that of the Transformers and eventually Mr. Witwicky finds himself in an apocalyptic final battle to save Earth from the Decepticons.
It sounds similar to the previous two films but I promise you it’s different. While there is another epic struggle for Earth between the Autobots and Decepticons, the story fuelling it is much better this time around and far more engaging. The stakes feel real and you actually find yourself emotionally involved. Plus, everything is clear and easy to follow, unlike the last film. The plot here makes sense and you know exactly what’s going down.
All that being said, this isn’t exactly Christopher Nolan level storytelling and the film does have its fair share of corny/farfetched moments that may have you laughing for all the wrong reasons. For a Transformers film though, the plot is quite good and as I said above, easily the best out of the three.
Much has been made about the film’s use of 3D. To put it bluntly, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon features the best 3D since Avatar, no joke. In fact, some might say that the 3D here is better than Cameron’s monumental picture. This movie MUST be seen in the third dimension and if you don’t believe me, just wait for the hour long final battle, you’ll find yourself scraping your jaw off the floor by the end.
As the big mechanical beasts duke it out, they literally fly right off the screen as their shiny exteriors razzle and dazzle in 3D. Standout scenes like the wingsuit jump are absolutely phenomenal to watch and will blow you the fuck away. Seeing this without 3D or IMAX is just an incredible disservice to yourself and is something that should be avoided at all costs.
If you’re walking into Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, you’re probably expecting some exhilarating action. In fact, that’s probably the case with any Michael Bay film. The man is known for his action scenes and with his third outing in the Transformers series, he gives us some of the best action ever committed to celluloid.
While the entire film is punctuated with well done action scenes, it’s really the final battle that will have people talking. Using Chicago as his playground for destruction, Bay stages an hour long battle that will literally leave you unable to breathe. He assaults us with adrenaline fuelled, steroid induced and over the top action that makes for the best summer blockbuster I’ve seen in ages.
Most of the action scenes are utterly mind blowing and the heightened moments shot in slow-mo mixed with Academy Award worthy effects make the final battle something truly special. The mixture of stunts, CGI, effects and location shooting turn this into one of the most exciting sequences ever put on film. It is an adrenalized, in your face, barrage of carnage and disaster that flows together fluently thanks to Bay’s assured direction.
It’s really quite the experience and it’s all set to an epic score that sounds a bit too much like Hans Zimmer‘s work on Inception. At times you don’t know what’s real and what’s not but you do know that you’re mind is in the process of being blown.
The last hour of this film, or the Chicago battle as it will come to be known, truly is brilliant and it’s the action scene that fans of the series deserve. I may be reaching when I say this but I really think that this is some of the best action/destruction that cinema has ever seen. While action films like The Matrix or Terminator 2 may be better on the whole, when it comes down to the action itself, and only the action, Bay gives us scenes that are equally, if not more exciting than the aforementioned films.
And that’s what really matters with Transformers, the action scenes. As a complete film, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon obviously doesn’t even compare to blockbusters like Inception, The Dark Knight, The Lord Of The Rings etc. Those films are far better as they bring intelligent scripts to the table and strong acting. But as I said before, when it comes to the action and fighting, no one does it like Mike.
Over the years, many have noted that Bay can create great action although it’s not always engaging, which is due in part to the way he shoots it. With Transformers: Dark Of The Moon I wouldn’t say that the problem is completely eradicated but it is certainly not as big an issue as it is in some of the director’s other films. One scene that features a toppling skyscraper is an excellent example of where Bay brings us right into the action, showing it to us from a human point of view and creating a completely mesmerizing and more easily relatable sequence.
When it comes to performances, Shia LaBeouf once again leads the cast and does a fine job. I’ve always been a fan of his and his performance here shows why. He makes for a credible action hero and his charisma makes him very watchable. His character has a strong emotional connection to the Transformers and that’s something that LaBeouf brings out very well. We really understand why he feels so compelled to take place in this fight. There are a few reasons pushing him into battle but one of the most prevalent is because of his connection with these robots and that’s something that LaBeouf translates well.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley‘s lack of acting experience does show here but my god is she gorgeous. Admittedly, she’s not much of an actress but she’s incredibly easy on the eyes and tries her best to be charming and endearing as Sam’s girlfriend Carly. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson reprise their roles from the previous films and despite both their characters being fairly one dimensional, they work with what they have and add an enjoyable tough guy/macho aspect to the action.
John Turturro once again has a ton of fun chewing scenery as Agent Simmons and Patrick Dempsey is surprisingly competent at playing the sleazy Dylan Gould, who is not all that he seems. Rounding out the cast, we have Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk and Ken Jeong.
None of them are particularly bad but the roles of Tudyk, Jeong and Malkovich all feel like a bit of a failed attempt at humor. The actors themselves aren’t necessarily to blame though, it’s more the script and the lame attempts to elicit laughs. The usual roll your eyes humor that Bay is known for is found here and while it’s not that bad this time around, a lot of it just wasn’t executed well.
As for the robots themselves, they’re back and better than ever. The Transformers have a huge impact here and really feel like they are an important part of the story, which is different from the past films where they felt more like supporting players. Optimus Prime turns into a true badass as he tries to save the world and Shockwave makes for a fantastic and truly scary villain. Bumblebee, Brains, Megatron and other familiar faces also make a return, leaving the audience feeling right at home. We also get a Leonard Nimroy voiced Sentinel Prime who makes for a great character that throws out a few subtle Star Trek references which should please fans who catch onto them.
At 154 minutes, the film does feel a bit long at points and with cheesiness oozing from the dialogue, it’s easy to remember that we’re watching a Michael Bay flick. Stereotyping and politics pop up a bit too often for a film like this and the expected action movie conventions come into play. Don’t you just love how Sam and company manage to come out of every situation completely unscathed?
While the aforementioned flaws can’t be brushed to the side, on a pure entertainment level, I don’t see any other film this summer being able to match up to Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. No other summer blockbuster that we’ve seen so far can compare to what is undoubtedly Michael Bay‘s magnum opus. This is the film to beat this summer and unfortunately for every single upcoming film from now until the end of August, I don’t see anyone doing it. Bay has set the bar for action films/summer blockbusters incredibly high. He really has gone all out here and fans of the series will be more than pleased.
The film really accomplishes what it set out to do. Transformers was never about sharp writing, award winning performances or witty humor, the series has been about action and delivering an epic summer blockbuster. On that note, this film more than succeeds. Many will argue that the above cannot be used as an excuse for poor filmmaking but I’ll argue just the opposite. If you’re looking for Academy Award worthy films then go watch something like The Social Network. If that’s the type of film you’re looking for then you’re clearly not going to be pleased here.
Seeing as this is some of the best action that Bay has ever put on film, it may also just be the best action that anyone has ever put on film. While I can see how some critics may rip it apart due to the issues I mentioned above, this is the most fun I’ve had with a movie in a long time.
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon reaches a level that very few summer blockbusters before it ever have. In a summer where almost every blockbuster before it has disappointed, Bay’s third outing in the series stands out as a shining example of what summer blockbusters are all about.