An hour of decent material scattered throughout 150 minutes
The opening of Transformers: Dark of the Moon feels like an illusion. There’s a scope of majesty and an epic scale to it as we see history ret-conned to fit into this film’s universe. As we discover the secret origins that until now hadn’t been revealed, and play a critical part to the film, there’s a feeling of hope. One can’t help but feel like maybe this time around Michael Bay will go from making a mediocre to bad film involving robots that turn into cars (like he had done twice already) and instead give us the Transformers film one imagines he sees inside his head when designing the film.
As we see historical moments, including the first landing of man on the moon, it’s almost majestic. Bay has in his hands a powerful film as we see events that captivated a nation interchanged with moments from a movie franchise. And then it turns into a Transformers film like the other two with all the usual silly dialogue and poor acting, of course, but for a brief moment there’s something powerful that Bay has his hands on.
That might be what’s most disappointing about Dark of the Moon, which is apparently the finale of Bay’s trilogy. This time around Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is a recent college grad who’s saved the world twice but can’t quite get a job. With a new girlfriend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) to replace the old one, he has a Presidential Medal of Freedom to his credit as the world has seemingly seen the end of the Decepticons. But when a discovery in Russia brings them out of hiding and a new Autobot (Leonard Nemoy) into the mix, things will never be the same as Chicago becomes ground zero for the last stand between good and evil robots.
And much like the first films in the franchise this is more of a CGI spectacle than a true story with characters and plot. Everyone is essentially a placeholder for the moments between action sequences, which in this case is in the form of a thinly veiled plot about Sam and his girlfriend dealing with relationship squabbles with the added bonus of her billionaire boss (Patrick Dempsey) throwing a monkey wrench into his psyche. Dealing with a fairly large ego from having saved the world twice, but not having the fame and measure of success to back it up, Sam is left to deal thinking he’s a big shot to a world that sees him as having no reason to think of him as one.
It’s a fairly pedestrian story, made worse by LaBeouf’s inability to garner any sort of sympathy for the character, which is unintentionally funny much more often than it is actually funny. Sam’s character throughout the film, which he once again shows he’s a hero, doesn’t really feel like one because he’s a hero that doesn’t deserve our affection or our sympathy. He’s just a jerk who thinks he’s owed something and garners nothing to make us feel otherwise. It’s a problem that’s equal parts script and acting, which is a common theme throughout the film.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had a similar complaint, which was levied on the film’s production during the WGA strike, but this one has similar problems but without the easy excuse. But the one thing the film doesn’t skimp on is action, which it delivers in spades. This is an incredibly well put together film when it comes to action sequences, with the film’s final act being a remarkably tight piece of movie-making. It’s absolutely awe-inspiring when the film gets into action mode as it’s absolutely breath-taking on a handful of occasions. This is perhaps the best action moments of the year as Bay knows exactly how to manipulate emotion that way. It’s easy to get sucked into the film when Bay gets into the action parts of the film.
And that’s the problem. There’s only so much action one can have in this film before it needs to slow down. When these moments occur the film’s glaring inadequacies come to light. It’s a shame, really, because the film starts out with enough promise to make it almost seem like it will change the reputation of the franchise instead of cement it.
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
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.