Review - Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), PG-13, 157 minutes - I'm just going to go ahead and get this out of the way: Dark of the Moon was much better than anticipated and those of you who told me as much were right. I'd also like to point out that I never said this looked bad, just that I wasn't wicked excited about it after the disappointment that was Revenge of the Fallen.
Dark of the Moon might be the best of the three Transformers films. The origin story is out of the way and the plot gets back to story aspects from the original Generation 1 cartoon from the 1980's. Megatron is the plotting/scheming villain that he was always meant to be, and the soldier side of Optimus Prime comes out (this time believably), after he no longer feels he can trust the intel provided by his human allies. The short version of the plot: the space race of the 1960's was fueled by the crash landing of an Autobot ship known as The Arc on the moon. Lost in the wreckage was Sentinal Prime (the Autobot leader who preceded Optimus Prime) and the tech to create a 'space bridge' that could transport anything across time and space. When Optimus finds out that the humans had this information and didn't share it with him, he feels betrayed. The Decepticons manipulate events in order to uncover the pieces necessary to build the space bridge in an effort to bring their war-torn home world of Cybertron to Earth and to enslave the human population to help rebuild it.
Most of the main characters from the first two films return, with the exception of Megan Fox. Her place as Sam's (Shia LeBeouf) love interest is filled by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely who plays Carly (Sam's love interest in the G1 cartoon). The chemistry between she and LeBeouf is much better than the chemistry between LeBeouf and Fox ever was. The rest of the human cast is pretty solid, with Frances McDormand and Patrick Dempsey playing fairly large roles. There are also a few great cameo's (John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Alan Tudyk, and Buzz Aldrin).
On the robot side of things, the inclusion of Shockwave, Soundwave (both voiced by Frank Welker as he did in the G1 cartoon), and Laserbeak was great. Hugo Weaving voices Megatron and Peter Cullen voices Optimus Prime (as they did previously). And the addition of Leonard Nimoy (voicing Sentinal Prime) was fantastic. I wasn't a big fan of the two mini-Autobots that were living with Sam and Carly, but at least they made themselves useful.
About the last forty minutes play out as one gigantic action sequence, which is cool, but makes for a long running movie. I felt that about 20-30 minutes could have been trimmed out in small chunks here or there and it wouldn't have lost much. The again, it is a Michael Bay film. Bigger is better right? (read: sarcasm)
So outside of it running a tad long, and a couple obnoxious 'bots, Dark of the Moon was pleasantly surprising. If you liked either of the first two Transformers films, you should enjoy this one as well. And if not, it's worth checking out as a big, summer time, popcorn action flick. I did not see it in 3D so I cannot speak for how that turned out.
- People will probably ask me why I didn't have any issues with Optimus Prime offing both Megatron and Sentinal Prime. Especially since one of my primary problems with Revenge of the Fallen was Optimus capping a Decepticon point blank at the beginning of that film. I argue that Optimus is much more diplomatic than needlessly killing an uncooperative Decepticon. It was out of character. By the time he takes out Megatron and Sentinal Prime he has realized that his diplomacy alone will no longer get the job done. He's also been beat on by Sentinal and gotten an arm chopped off. Optimus goes berserk and takes out two primary threats to the planet Earth. Makes sense to me.
- Speaking of Sentinal Prime. His betrayal of the Autobots was a nice twist I thought.
- Shockwave was just as big of a threat in this movie as he was in the G1 cartoon, but in a different way. Here he had a tremendous, devastating physical presence, where as in the cartoon he was much more cerebral.
- I was a little disappointed that Laserbeak actually spoke. In the G1 toons, he transformed into a cassette and relayed any spy intel by being played in Soundwave. I realize that would be pretty outdated for this movie, but they could have made him play back his intel as opposed to actually speaking.
- When Soundwave spoke, the speakers from his car mode that are visible in his robot mode thumped with each word. I nice nod to his roots in the G1 cartoon as a boombox.
- There was a smaller, round Decepticon running around the desert with Megtron that reminded me of the Sharkticons (another G1 reference). I have no idea if it was meant to be, but that's what it looked like.
- The Wreckers, the three Autobots prepping the space shuttle for the Autobot deportation, were a nice nod to a comic book mini-series produced by Dreamwave a few years back.
- It wouldn't have fit in with how this story turned out, but while watching, I thought it would have been pretty bad ass had the space shuttle been Omega Supreme.
- In the first car chase, I enjoyed the scene where Sam was riding in Bumblebee and was thrown out as Bumblebee transformed to robot mode to avoid the Decepticon attack. Sam was then caught and placed back in Bumblebee's passenger seat as he returned to vehicle mode. This made me laugh because that was always the question in the cartoon: what happens to the people riding along when the robots transform?
- What have we learned from movies so far this summer kids? That the Cuban Missile Crisis was averted by the X-Men and our desire to put a man on the moon was expedited by Transformers crashing landing on it.
- How many United States memorials/landmarks has Bay destroyed in movies now? I've lost count.