Let me start off by admitting that I harbour mixed feelings with regards to this movie. You see, I understand that this is a movie based on a cartoon, based on a toy line; I’m well aware that it’s the type of film that throws in an implausibly attractive love interest because, well, no one shows up for the writing; and I know full well that it’s nothing more than a Hollywood cash cow that caters to the ADD addled 14-24 age group that can’t go 10 minutes without having something exploding jammed into their face.
Yet at the same time, I sit directly within that demographic, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take guilty pleasure in watching these shiny, seemingly multi-cultural robots flip around like gymnasts and turn into stuff. Hollywood has raised us on these trite gimmicks, and if there’s one movie that’s managed to fill up 150 minutes with every gimmick in the book, it’s Trans-Friggin’-Formers. In a manner of speaking, any erudite film critic who attempts to reproach this movie for its mindlessness is going to get crushed under the weight of Megatron’s (or rather, Michael Bay’s) iron fist.
The story cleverly retcons the Apollo 11 mission as a controversial investigation of an alien space craft that crash landed on the moon in the 60’s. Onboard this ship were a series of plot devices- the keys Megatron needs to transport his race of giant metal men to earth, and enslave humanity. Once Optimus gets wind of this, he gathers his magnificent team of Autobots and “rolls out”, this time on a mission to save humanity from a fate of eternal servitude.
But what’s Shia Labeouf’s Sam Witwicky doing during all these crazy robotic shenanigans? Well, the truth is that no one really cares, but he’s landed himself a rich, financially supportive Victoria’s Secret model for a girlfriend, (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) so you know, there’s that. He spends the first 20 minutes searching for a post-college vocation in his own subplot which eventually becomes tied in with Megatron’s main scheme.
ruth be told, I don’t think anyone’s in it for the inventive screenwriting, or lack thereof. Transformers is a saga whose substance has always been superseded by gratuitous style, and so any wooden acting or dried up dialogue takes the back seat to the metallic supporting cast. This time around though, Michael Bay seems to have toned things down after the heavy backlash produced by the last film, and so gone are the humping dogs, schticky parental scenes (for the most part), frenetic editing and robotic scrotum.
From here on in, it’s just clear, inoffensive sailing with the usual Hollywood checklist:
“Ok, so we got Shia Labeouf doing his fast-talking socially awkward thing?”- Check.
“Did we give him a sexy love interest that can’t act but is fun to look at?” –Check.
“What about Ken Jeong-people seem to love that guy. Find something routine for him to do.” – Check.
“Comic relief robots, we gotta have those.” –Check.
“They can’t be ghetto bots, though. Apparently that’s offensive.” – Check.
“Throw in some jarringly contemporary music that the kids are into to supplement the killer robots” –Check.
“All in 3D!” –Check.
And if you ever get hungry during the 2nd act, John Turturro’s delivers enough ham to feed a third-world country, as per usual.
So, yeah, more of the same and nothing new here. I’d be beating a dead horse if I went on forever about the hackneyed everything. I suppose most go to see these movies for the sake of the transformers themselves, but it’s in that respect that I feel that the film isn’t generous enough. Sure, you’re kept busy with an effluence of 3D explosions in your face, but what about the robot cast members? Yes, they fight, blow up and rip out each other’s bionic spines, but something makes me want to see these guys interact more and pal around with each other.
Case in point; in an apocalyptic scene set in Chicago, we bear witness to a certain type of human genocide. Armed with the vaporizer guns from War or the Worlds, an army of Decepticons trudge through the city, blasting humans left and right. What should normally be heart-wrenching only stirs up fond anthill-stomping memories from years past. Nobody likes ants, so why not give em’ a good stomping now and then?
Conversely, every time an Autobot bites the dust, his death is exemplified in slow motion and accompanied by a sympathetic instrumental piece. It’s enough to make even the most hardened ant-stomping sociopath choke back a sob. Let’s see YOU try not to shed a tear when they kill off poor what’s-his-name.
And so it bears mentioning that if these metal men composed of special effects carry more dramatic weight than their human co—stars, why not give them more scenes, dialogue and characterisation? The Wreckers –a 3 man commando/mechanic squad ostensibly hailing from Scotland- steal the scene when they work together to rip apart a Decepticon with their bare hands. Would it be too much to see them hanging out, having arguments and doing whatever robots do in their spare time? Actually, scratch that, the movie is already almost 3 hours long.
At the end of the day, I suppose you know whether or not you’re going to see Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, despite anyone assertions that the film is an uninspired pile of transforming garbage. There’s no fooling ourselves that it’s anything more than a summer blockbuster about pointy robots that talk with funny accents and turn into cars. Yes, it’s better than the last film, but only in the sense that it’s slightly more tasteful. After all, it’s true that getting punched in the stomach doesn’t hurt as much after getting punched in the face. What would be nice, is not getting punched at all. Despite all this, Transformers is the most robot explodin’est, fan service filled flick you could spend 11 dollars on. If that’s your thing, don’t miss it. Your id will thank you.
- Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
- Year Released:
- 29 June 2011
- Michael Bay
- Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Tyrese Gibson
- Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
- Official URL:
- Transformers: Dark Of The Moon