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Thursday, 30 June 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Review


Michael Bay came out to complain about the treatment of his second Transformers film Revenge of the Fallen, claiming that critics were unfair because the film had to be rushed through due to the writer's strike. I wonder what his excuse is going to be this time for his third in the series, which is just as loud, just as messy and just as dumb.

In the 60s a craft crashes on the moon, triggering the NASA moon landings to investigate. The space agency have kept the whole thing secret. Fast forward to Earth when the Autobots are helping protect the planet from the Deceptacons and they find out what about the craft, which has a senior Autobot on board, thought to be lost forever and his cargo that could change the face of the war between the Transformers forever.

As with the previous films, plot comes second to spectacle and you cannot deny that Bay knows how to deliver loud explosions, impressive special effects and flashy camera trickery. The problem this time is that this only occurs in the final act of the film. For the first hour of this extremely long movie, we get the problems of Sam, the human who helped the Autobots in the past movies.

Shia LaBeouf's geeky boy has now become a man without a job who has a medal from the President and a new girlfriend (gone has brunette, blue-eyed Megan Fox, replaced by blonde, blue-eyed Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) which he has jealousy problems with and feels threatened by her ultra-rich boss (Patrick Dempsey). He has also been shut out of the Autobots operations by the government. Bay, as a director, can handle the action but has always struggled with human drama and here it is most obvious. You have no sympathy for any of the characters as they are so paper thin. Having Sam dated stunningly beautiful women also just seems so unbelievable. Maybe they think being incredibly jealous is cute, so why not flirt like mad to make things worst.

Bay is very fortunate to have on board Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, two the screen's finest and yet Malkovich is given very little to do apart from play a slightly nutty boss and McDormand tries her hardest to bring credibility to the events as a government boss. John Turturro also returns but even he cannot save the dullness of the first hour or so. It drags on...and on...and on.

Until we get to the big battle. Yes, for almost an hour we get mass destruction as Transformer takes on Transformer. This has buildings being crushed, robots being ripped apart and humans being killed and turning to dust. So all of what has happened before with the human drama is replaced by an overlong effects-fest and once again it seems to go on forever. With all the flashy cinematography you get lost with who is fighting who or what is happening. You know that the previous events make you feel nothing as the heroes are trapped in a building slowly collapsing, which should be nail-biting stuff but is very humdrum and lacking in any tension.

One of the good things about the film, and I didn't think I'd say this, is the 3D, especially when the soldiers are jumping out the under attack helicopters.

It will be a massive hit (the queues for the opening day were huge) but this is the kind of summer blockbuster that gives blockbusters a bad name. It maybe big and brash but it will make you feel like you've lost several IQ points after experiencing it. Still it is better than the second film, but not by much.

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