If you feel as though you haven’t seen a true blockbuster this summer, your luck is about to transform.
I grew up with Transformers being one of the most popular cartoons around and yet I never watched the show (nor did I buy the toys). I’m not sure why but for some reason they just never appealed to me. Fast forward to 2007 where Mr. Blockbuster himself, Michael Bay, brought the robotic aliens into reality and that’s where I signed up. That likely gives me a different perspective on the films, as I have no childhood emotional attachment to any of the characters involved. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as someone going in with no preconceived notions or expectations can judge the films on their own merit and choose to recommend them accordingly.
Having recently watched the first two films in preparation for the latest installment, I can say that there’s no other director who could have given the Transformers the explosive popcorn flick feel that they needed other than Michael Bay. The first film was a great introduction, and really, one of the best ways to add a human element to the mix while still having the Transformers be the stars. The critically lambasted sequel, Revenge of the Fallen, wasn’t anything great but, at the same time, it wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be. That leads us to the third and (what looks to be) last film in the franchise: Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Dark of the Moon is Bay taking everything he’s learned from past films and cramming it all into a two and a half hour summer blockbuster that will blow you away. The story goes that the space race back in the 1960s was all because of a UFO crashing into the moon, which happened to belong to the Autobots. Pieces of Intel were taken from the ship by the government in each of the Apollo missions that followed Apollo 11, but nothing of any true value (outside of the knowledge that other beings exist) was ever found.
Fast forward to the present day, and the Autobots (who have taken solace on Earth and made an allegiance with the US military) re in Russia, investigating reports of an unknown object being discovered. Of course, anything of interest to the Autobots is of interest to their enemies (the Decepticons) and this time is no different. After a brief battle the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), reveals to the humans that the piece they were fighting over belonged to a ship that could have turned the tides of the war that destroyed their home world. He tells them that if the ship is still out on the moon, that they have to reach it before the Decepticons do or else it will be the end of earth as we know it. There is, however, more to this story than meets the eye and that’s where things get interesting.
The best way I can describe Dark of the Moon is to call it Independence Day with Transformers. While its story is interesting, often funny, and the perfect set-up for huge, explosive battles of epic proportions, it also knows exactly what it is — an exciting way to spend a few hours without having to take anything too seriously.
The human element of the film is once again lead by Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), who still hasn’t had much success in life, despite saving the planet multiple times (hell, even a medal from the President can’t land him a job). However, don’t feel too bad for him as even though things didn’t work out with his previous girlfriend he’s found love once again in Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), a British beauty that really makes you (and even his mom) wonder, what’s this kid’s secret? The two have solid chemistry, and LaBeouf actually really plays the frustrated guy who can never catch a break quite well. At the same time, Whitely does a good job in her acting debut, as she, and her character, both get better as the film progresses.
Also returning are Transformers military veterans Josh Duhamel (Lennox) Tyrese Gibson (Epps), and John Turturro (former Sector 7 agent Simmons). There are also three fantastic additions to the cast: McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey, who plays Carly’s millionaire boss, John Malkovich is Sam’s quirky boss and Alan Tudyk, who plays Dutch, Simmons assistant with a mysterious past. All three are fun, memorable characters, though Tudyk’s Dutch (who would best be compared to Bronson Pinchot’s Serge from Beverly Hills Cop, but with more attitude) is one you almost wish there was more of.
Out of all the Transformers films, this one is the most human-centric, which is actually not a bad thing. While the film does have some slow patches, the heavy human element makes the explosive robot battles that much more impressive. The pacing of the film, while a little long in the tooth at times, actually spaces the action sequences out quite well so that they each have their own moment to shine.
Bay doesn’t hold back the slow-motion at any point during these bouts, which only shows how well the special effects team has gotten at making transformations take place. It’s quite impressive to see, and they really do add a whole other level of intensity to each of these giant brawls.
Are there things you can pick apart about this film? Sure, there’s the classic villain explaining their entire plan to one of the heroes, and pointing out the one weakness in it and the whole Dr. Evil/Scott debate over why villains keep heroes alive once they capture them instead of just getting them out of the way right then and there. Dr. Evil said it best, “Scott, you just don’t get it, do ya? You don’t.” Those moments are as much a part of these films as an explosion, and where would the fun be if they weren’t there?
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an absolute blast, and the best Transformers film yet. Bay does what he does best, and has delivered one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. I must say that while I didn’t grow up a fan of series, I’ve definitely been transformed into one now.
Directors: Michael Bay Notable Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Alan Tudyk, John Turturro, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Leonard Nemoy Writer(s): Ehren Kruger
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.