By Dan Kanpling
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is a film that the audience will either love or hate. Some will say it is every single reason why people go to the movies. Or that it is every thing wrong with modern cinema. The film continues the never ending war between the Autobots and the Decepticons on Earth, who come across a powerful piece of technology from their home planet, presumed to have been destroyed, that rests on the Moon.
Shia LaBeouf returns as the Autobot’s human ally, Sam Witwicky, an Ivy League graduate, who has been awarded a medal by the President for his heroic acts on the previous films and still manages to find room to complain about his life. Despite this, he is living with a new love interest played by English supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who should be credited as “Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Body,” as the only purpose she serves in the film is as eye candy. It is even worse than the exploitation of actress Megan Fox, who was the love interest in the last two films. It is also sad to note that the special effects are much more convincing than the romance between the two characters.
Josh Duhamel and John Turturro return from the previous film in supporting roles, along with Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand and John Malkovich. Under the direction of Michael Bay, even strong actors like McDormand and Malkovich provide a very subpar performances.
McDormand comes off as too ridgeded to embrace. And while Malkovich starts off strong, he then trails off when he is literally tickled by one of the Autobots. Ken Jeong from “The Hangover” and TV’s “Community” briefly appears in the film, contributing more Asian stereotypes, while fitting in some inappropriate homosexual humor.
The voices of the title characters also return, along with the new addition of Leonard Nimoy as the voice of the Autobot, Sentinel Prime, delivering his lines in a more emotional manner, unlike the logical minded character Mr. Spock character from “Star Trek,” which made him famous.
The tone and style of the “Transformers” films have always very disjointed, by combining serious drama with broad humor. What director Michael Bay does not realize is that what he considers to be “comic relief” is actually hurting the tone of the rest of the film, such as when Sam has to unwillingly betrays his allies in order to keep his girlfriend from harm.
What starts off as a serious drama quickly turns into a slapstick routine, as the painful device attached to his arm allows him to perform like a clown. That combined with other weird attempts at humor, including a body guard, played by Alan Tudyk, who wears a suit with floral prints.
The run time of the film could be significantly lowered from two and half hours to a reasonable two hours if most of this material was left out of the film. Bay makes it no secret that he likes the military and its weapons, always showcased in at least one slow motion shot. Some aspects, such as a shuttle exploding and the manner of the destruction of buildings will undoubtedly recall previous disasters, such as 9/11 and the Challenger/Columbia shuttle incidents.
What makes audiences see these films are the astounding special effects, which truly makes the audience wonder just how they were accomplished. Seeing this film at the IMAX in 3D truly made it come alive, notably the last hour of the film, which is a battle that takes place in Chicago. Just take note, due to wall-to-wall action, the 3D effect may be headache-inducing, so it is best to rest your eyes every so often.
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is definitely worth its price if you are wanting to see excellent examples of how action sequences should be done, but that price also includes poor characters and bad attempts at humor. Since this will be the final Transformers film for Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf, a reboot of the series is most likely the way the franchise shall continue. With millions in profit and three films to draw examples from, hopefully the next series of films will take what worked (the special effects) and try to improve what made them classified as “bad films.”