The next iteration in the Transformers movie franchise has hit theaters. Let’s see if the franchise has transformed beyond it’s predecessors. Tranformers Revenge of the Fallen, which is the second movie in the series, was a complete mess and an utter failure. So you can imagine that I went into the third movie expecting it to be terrible. Is the third movie worth the price of admission or will it simply vanish into the dark side of the moon?
Action: Fast and frantic action is a staple of Micheal Bay’s directing style and there are times where it works (Armageddon, the Island) and times where it doesn’t (Transformers 2) and thankfully it works well here. When the movie finally gets to the action, you get a taste of some of the most explosive and visually stunning scenes within a Michael Bay movie. Bay has clearly learned from the mistakes he made in Revenge of the Fallen. It is no longer impossible to follow all of the action. He has made the Transformers varied enough so that they don’t get lost in all the quick cuts.
Unfortunately, Dark of the Moon shares one of the major flaws with Revenge of the Fallen. The final battle is way too long, but at least this time there are moments where it slows down enough to give the audience a breather. The finale of the final action scene is great and more than makes up for the horrible ending of Revenge of the Fallen. The main villains are not made to look like total chumps this time, for there is a real battle to tie things up.
Humor: The reason I’m giving the humor a good mark is due to how superior its execution is when compared to the first and second movie. Fortunately, Sam’s parents are mercifully kept to a minimum, for they are the most annoying characters in the movie (taking Megan Fox’s place now that she’s gone). On another note, John Turturro’s character once again plays a major role, he seems like he has a real purpose and proves himself to not be utterly annoying.
The best part of the humor is the stuff that was dropped compared to the last movie; we don’t have robots with balls, we don’t have stereotyped twin Autobots, and they also don’t have fifty comedy relief characters filling up the movie and ruining it. The comic relief is kept to a minimum and the jokes between characters feels more natural. When Sam and his new girlfriend are saying something that is supposed to be funny it actually works. Both of them have some semblance of acting talent and there is some chemistry, which is great compared to Megan Fox’s acting in the previous films. They even made Wheelie tolerable, which is something that was never even possible in the cartoon.
Voice acting: One thing all three movies have done fairly well is getting great voice talent for the Transformers. Hugo Weaving is no Frank Welker, but he makes Megatron his own, and even with less to say in this movie, Weaving adds gravity to the character and manages to remind me of what Megatron was like in the cartoon. Speaking of Frank Welker, I picked up on him voicing Soundwave and Shockwave pretty quickly. Shockwave and Soundwave don’t have a lot to say, but I was glad when they did. It has taken three movies, but I think I’m willing to admit that Charles Adler does do a good Starscream.
No one will ever top the late Chris Latta in my mind, but Adler has done a good job throughout each film. Leonard Nimoy returns to the world of Transformers to voice Sentinel Prime. Sadly there is no Galvatron for him to voice in this movie, but he delivered a comparable performance as Sentinel Prime. It’s too bad that Nimoy is talking about retiring, for he has a good talent for voice acting. The real star of the voice cast is of course Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime. Prime’s voice just wouldn’t work as well without Cullen’s voice behind him. There is a good reason for fans demanding Cullen to always be Prime.
Stereotypes: The Autobot twins may be gone, but the movie is not free of stereotypical humor. It’s a Micheal Bay movie so it is to be expected. While the stereotyping is still fairly obvious it doesn’t seem as bad as Revenge of the Fallen. The movie is no where near as offensive as Revenge, but I can see some people really not liking some of the humor. Even the crowd I was with fell dead silent at some of the really bad stuff.
I should have brought a pillow: Dark of the Moon clocks in at 157 minutes and I really have to wonder why. They could have cut out nearly the first 70 minutes and nothing would have been missed. Additionally, they could make an entire movie out of the fluff they filled this thing with. Almost nothing happens during the entire first hour of the movie. There are some cool moments (the stuff on the moon specifically), but they could have used that time to do so much more.
All three movies have spent a lot of time talking about Cybertron, but they’ve never spent much time showing it. Those fluff moments would be a great time to show flashbacks or go into more detail about the war or the history of the various Autobots. They barely spend any time introducing the new Autobots, and those moments where nothing at all happens would be perfect for those introductions. Dark of the Moon has the exact same problem as Revenge of the Fallen, but at least the fluff in Dark of the Moon isn’t filled with nonsense. It isn’t a huge improvement, but I’d rather be bored then wanting to walk out in disgust.
So the big question now is do I recommend this movie? Yes, yes I do. If you’ve been watching these movies since the first one, Dark of the Moon is worth seeing. Even if you were like me and hated the second movie, you should give it a try. Don’t worry about being late though, feel free to spend an hour doing something else, for you won’t miss that much. Dark of the Moon is not a great movie and I’m not sure if I’d even go so far as to call it a good movie, but as far as dumb summer action movies go, it at least offers what it advertises: big explosions and robots beating the tar out of each other.
This is basically like GI Joe, no real substance, a lot of boring parts, one-dimensional characters, but when the action kicks up, it provides some good brainless fun. If that is what you are looking for then go see the movie, but you can skip the 3D. I saw Dark of the Moon in 3D and I was not the least bit impressed. It’s not super dark due to Paramount demanding that theaters buy brighter bulbs for their 3D projectors, but the 3D adds nothing to the movie. It is very clear that this is a movie converted into 3D in post production and those kinds of movies never have good 3D. So, if your local theater has it on a 2D screen save yourself a couple bucks and see it that way. If you’re forced to see it in 3D it isn’t a painful experience, just not worth the extra cost.
Transformers Dark of the Moon Review by Derangel