My Review of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

*THERE ARE SPOILERS* *THERE ARE SPOILERS* *THERE ARE SPOILERS*

When I walked into the theater on Wednesday night my thoughts were: “Hopefully Michael Bay will redeem himself and make me forget that there ever was a Transformer heaven.”  This was Bay’s last chance to keep me as a fan of the franchise and he delievered…mostly.  There is still too much human influence and I didn’t understand John Malkovich’s role in the movie.  Plus, there is no reason for B-list actor Patrick Dempsey to play a bad guy. He should just stick to starring in terrible dramas that glorify the workings of a hospital. Bay saturated the movie with as many stars as possible hoping that the star power would save the franchise.  It was desperation.

Let’s get right into it.

The Positives:

The Decepticons– Every movie the Autobots are outnumbered by the best and coolest Transformers. Shockwave was the newest and by far my favorite.  The drill-like projection that was worm-like helped him maneuver around was creative.  The collapsing kyscraper was a great scene.  The way the drill wrapped around the building like a snake was great animation and the ensuing human action (of them falling, sliding, and being tossed around) because they were trapped in the building made it a solid scene. 

Sentinel Prime, although starting as an Autobot, was the second real “Prime” to have a major role in the franchise.  He was a strong villain and had a sword and a shield compared to Optimus’s two swords.  He killed off Ironhide and fought Optimus for an extended period of time, the way it should’ve been.  During that fight scene he was the first to really inflict damage on Optimus Prime, hints that the franchise may be over. (Optimus has one arm now, they can’t make another movie.)

Optimus Prime- Bean said “Is it me or is it every time you hear Optimus Prime talk, you just listen?”  Definitely.  His mini-monologues of truth and justice for all are too enticing. He speaks softly but carries a big stick.  Right before he kills Sentinel Prime he says, “You didn’t betray me, you betrayed yourself!” What better way is there to end that? That’s not to mention that every time he’s on-screen he cleans house. His dual-wielded swords are right above Megatron’s shotgun which I didn’t know existed until Optimus executed Sentinel Prime. He is the most solid of all the transformers, most badass, and most “just.” He should be on screen as much as possible.

The New Girl- It seems shallow that this is a positive, but for an action-franchise this is what Bay and Spielberg are trying for. Think about it, “Transformers” isn’t going to win any Oscars so it’s about transformers battling and sex appeal.  Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaced Megan Fox as Sam’s girlfriend and she didn’t do too terribly.  She can’t act (neither can Fox), but she’s better looking and was an upgrade at that role.  Fox looked half asleep and her star was burned out by the time “Revenge of the Fallen” came out. Huntington-Whiteley gets a 3 out of 10 for acting but a 10 out of 10 for appeal.

The Negatives:

Human Influence- Having said that about Huntington-Whiteley, I still don’t understand the scene where she convinces Megatron to turn on Sentinel Prime (more on that in a second) nor do I understand that the influence in the movies.  The scene with the “Asian from the ‘Hangover’” was a catalyst to Sam figuring out what the Decepticons were doing, but was it necessary?  Was it necessary to show Laserbeak having a tea party with a little girl then kills her father?  Was it necessary to have John Malkovich in the movie at all?  And seriously, what is the deal with Patrick Dempsey? Even during the imminent defeat of the Decepticons, he found it necessary to stay loyal to them.  (Speaking of humans, the big black guy who was picked to shoot the rockets is the voice of the Cole Train from “Gears of War.”)

Representation of Megatron and Prime conflict- The conflict between Prime and Megatron was shown once for about three seconds.  Carly convinced Megatron to turn on the Decepticons.  It was crucial but treated as minor.  If Bay wanted me to believe that there was a conflict between the two then he should’ve extended it or shown it more frequently. Although I said that “Transformers” won’t win any Oscars doesn’t mean it can take shortcuts.  At least show how Megatron ended up in that alley depressed and defeated.  It was weak and a cheap way to save Optimus Prime’s life at the end.  (As gratitude, Optimus ripped Megatron’s head off.  Seriously, who is a better Transformer than him?)

First 30 minutes- I mentioned this earlier as well, but the movie could’ve been 20-30 minutes shorter if they cut out some of the “comedic” scenes. The introduction of the conspiracy theory and why the space race started was great and could be believable, but do Sam’s parents have to be there?  Yeah they’re funny, but now it’s just annoying.  Plus, when Sam gets to the hangar in Washington D.C. they don’t believe he knows anything.  It’s tired and played out.  He saved the world twice and they don’t believe he did it.  It’ just a useless time slot and the movie should’ve started (after the conspiracy scenes) with him waking up then immediately at John Malkovich’s office for the interview. Stop forcing scenes.

My friend Matt Press and I have a grading-scale we give movies based off the high school grading system. “Dark of the Moon” gets 68 out of 100 (it’s a tough scale). The movie starts out with a bang, but fizzles soon after.  It’s only saved when the setting reaches Chicago and the fighting starts.  The franchise will make money regardless so they should take their time and follow the first movie’s form and balance everything.  It’s ridiculous to saturate the movie with stars and completely dilute the quality of the franchise. Shame on you Spielberg, you’re better than that.

If you want to read my review for the other two movies, simply click “read rest of this entry.”

Since all signs point to the series being over I want to show the three movie timeline of what everyone thought during the “Transformers” run as a franchise. 

Transformers (2007): On the Press-Scogna scale, 77. Earlier in the year before “Transformers” release in July previews showed the first glimpse and had us all hooked.   With Michael Bay directing and Steven Spielberg producing my cousin and I guaranteed it to be good. When the movie was released, it absolutely was the best of that year.  It raked in ridiculous amounts of money and had created a worldwide Transformers movement.  The casting was well done with Shia LeBeouf as Sam Witwicky, the geeky and sarcastic teenager whose great-grandfather found Megatron.  Megan Fox was casted as Mikaela, Sam’s crush, and after the movie had every male from the ages of 16-65 completely infatuated with. She instantly became the hottest girl in Hollywood and teenagers from around the world were looking up pictures of her to put on their backgrounds (from what I’ve heard…).  It had the strongest story and dealt with relevant issues to the times (other forms of life existing outside of Earth) and integrated the back story of the aliens from Cybertron.  The battle scenes were so well done and the movie had a good balance of drama and comedy. It put “Transformers” on the map and had everyone excited about the sequel. ((My favorite scene from the movie)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). The movie could’ve been so great, sooo great, but it fell into the trap of “Sequels not living up to the hype.” (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Godfather III round out the top three).  The Fallen, one part of the Primes and the first Decepticon, betrays the Primes and is imprisoned. There the remaining Primes sealed away the weapon that would destroy the sun.  The Fallen now promises revenge (see how interesting this story sounds). The story picks up a couple of years after the first movie with Sam going to college. He finds a piece of the “Allspark” that engrains inscriptions to the location of the weapon. Megatron, who magically is resurrected, knows this and searches for him.

I can’t stress how terrible “Revenge of the Fallen” was. The most baffling part was the death of Optimus Prime. He is the only Autobot that talks and is the most iconic transformer.  For him to have been killed made no sense (I know, The Fallen could’ve only been killed by a Prime, but he spent the rest of the movie teleporting to Earth) and took away from the movie. Because he was dead, LeBeouf and Fox had an extra 30 minutes of scene. How else were they going to fill that spot? Then there were the twin Autobots, Mudflap and Skids, which were deemed racist and had no business being in the movie. (LOOK at their names).  Bay thought it would be cool to add a comedic element to the transformers, but it didn’t work, at all.  As I mentioned there was a Transformer heaven.  Am I the only one who didn’t understand that? Sam dies but is revived by the Primes? And if Optimus was dead, why wasn’t he there? Was he stuck in some Transformer purgatory?

 “Revenge of the Fallen” had a setting that made sense but didn’t work.  Sam spent most of the time flying to different deserts to find this weapon and how to stop it.  Deserts, sand and cacti, the setting was deserts.  It forced the addition of another villain that had a three minute part in the movie before Optimus Prime killed him.  For the first Decepticon and the only one Megatron listened to, The Fallen should’ve been in the movie more.  (My favorite scene)

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