Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dark of the Moon is explosively bright!

Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third and final part of Michael Bay's magnum opus - The Transformers trilogy - is upon us.

Bay promised to correct the "errors in judgement" he had with Revenge Of The Fallen in 2009, but not only had he to do that; he also had to end his tale with such a bang that it would resonate throughout the history of cinema for years to come. He was also faced with impossible mission of exciting the predominately male audience with a sexy female lead more delectable than Megan Fox.

Well 2 outta 3 ain't bad Michael.

The problems with Revenge were indeed corrected thankfully, basically by ignoring them. Gone was the idea of The Fallen, somehow superior to Megatron. Absent were Decepticon "hatchlings" and the Autobot "twins" perceived as racist by many, were nowhere to be seen. The over-long comedy sequences with the Witwicky family were reduced to a minimum for the third movie's pretty lengthy running time. So it's basically safe to say that Bay kept his word and stuck to the core ideas he began with in the original Transformers.

Did he manage to end his tale with a bang? Aye, he sure did. Dark of the Moon was most certainly the loudest, most explosion-ey movie Bay has ever done and took full advantage of being able to blow half of a $195m budget on pyrotechnics [reserving the other half for CGI]. The addition of the third dimension was a bold move for a man who admitted severe difficulty with the format in the way he films. Nevertheless, he produced stunning three dimensional imagery that complimented what would be the greatest on screen battles of the series.

While Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving and others all returned to portray the characters they had in the previous two movies, Megan Fox's unfortunate reference to Bay as "Hitler" during an interview angered producer Steven Spielberg who had Bay remove her from the project. Bay replaced Fox with British underwear model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley [I'm sorry but am I the only person who thinks she got punched in the upper lip by someone?] in the part of Sam's new girlfriend Carly [a nod to Carly Witwicky, Spike's wife in the G1 series]. It is being said by all who have witnessed her performance that Huntington-Whiteley's acting talents make Megan Fox seem like Katharine Hepburn by comparison. It would have been alright for her to just sit there and pout or run and scream as necessary for the scene but they made the mistake of giving her lines of dialog, and also the most unconvincing speech I've heard in an age. Not since Kate Bosworth's abysmal performance in Superman Returns have I actually been so annoyed at the emptiness of a performance by a leading lady.

Aside from that, Ehren Kruger's screenplay brought a cohesiveness to the action that seemed to escape Orci and Kurtzman in the previous installments. Dark of the Moon seems to posess a slightly more engaging plot, what with the idea of the space race of the 1960's being a response to The Ark's crash and the purpose of the Apollo program being a mission to discover what landed there. There is even an appearance by Buzz Aldrin portraying himself to confirm what it was that he found up there all those years ago [and driving the conspiracy nuts - those that believe the moon landing was real at least - demented for decades to come]. The movie does take a slightly tedious turn during the first hour where we are re-introduced to Sam whose life has taken a turn for the worse economically and he's unemployed [Bay's commentary on the dire job crisis?] but he's still scored high in the romance department [if you're into totally brain-dead bimbos] and his lighthearted adventures soon turn deadly.

The McGuffin of the piece is not the All-Spark or the Matrix of Leadership this time but another significant piece of Transformers technology plucked from over 25 years of Transformers lore - The Space Bridge, which would allow the Decepticons to unleash their overwhelming army directly from Cybertron to the Earth in seconds. The bridge can only be controlled however by Sentinel Prime [Leonard Nimoy] the former leader of the Autobots who has been discovered and brought back to life, so thankfully the Space Bridge technology is in good hands.

The weak-bladdered brigade who whine at the likes of Gladiator and The Dark Knight will no doubt do the same at Dark Of The Moon for being too long. They don't understand that when something of this quality is produced, you may need more time to present it adequately. That said, a 15 minute shaving off Sam's job hunting sequence probably wouldn't have been too lamented if it went missing [so long as it didn't remove John Malkovich's crazy cameo].

Final Verdict: The finale to Bay and LaBeouf's run in the series is an explosive climax to one of the most successful trilogies of all time. Dark of the Moon corrects the flaws of it's predecessor but because of it's own issues, it can't touch the original, the entirely flawless progenitor that is Transformers - which was the best movie of it's decade. Takings of over $1Bn dollars and becoming currently the 5th highest grossing film of all time in only six weeks have secured the future of this franchise for another outing, and it will be interesting to see who will take the tale of the cinematic Robots in Disguise to their next level.

Colonel Creedon Verdict: *****

Read my original Transformers review [Exempt] from July 07 and my Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen review [*****] from July 2009.


Former Grunt said...

More Bay-ified military porn for The Colonel's Blu Ray collection.

Had to settle for the 2D version because the 3D was sold out :(

Constance said...

No worries, Grunt. The 3D version was not as spectacular as it was in Monsters vs. Aliens. In fact, it gave me a bit of a headache.