Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Folks who watch this movie can be broadly classified into three categories; people who are into this simply for some mindless, summer blockbuster fun, diehard Transformers fans who have had affections for the franchise since they were kids and those who want to watch “the other hot chick” ham it up since Fox is no more. However, except for audiences who are looking to be brainlessly entertained, everyone else might be disappointed.
Director Michael Bay’s latest addition to the series takes off sometime after Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, where The Autobotshave been helping the military protect Planet Earth ever since.Fast-talking, currently unemployed college graduate Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is in the market for a job. Of course he’s conveniently found himself a brand new Barbie doll girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), who he met while accepting a Presidential Medal of Honour following events from the last film – Fox’s departure is glossed over like their relationship never existed. Carly works for Dylan (an unconvincing Patrick Dempsey), a smooth-talking, shrewd business man who collects automobiles for a living and is actually in cahoots with the Decepticons. Bay also fools around a bit with history of the NASA Space Program; Neil Armstrong and his team’s race to the moon has now morphed into some secret competition with the Russians to bring to Earth Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimov) - Optimus Prime’s big boss, and “The Pillars” - a vital power source that could revive the lost Cybertron. Doing so somehow pits the grossly outnumbered Autobots against the Decepticons over control of the planet, with the humans struggling to defend themselves. Explanations for this are not reiterated at any point in the film; then again most of us have already decided that logical connections aren’t exactly Bay’s strong suit.
About 70 per cent of Dark of the Moon was shot stereoscopically, and although Optimus, Bumblebee and gang do look a lot more bad-ass in IMAX 3D, the technology doesn’t contribute significantly to a thrilling movie-going experience. Sure, the robots are shinier and colours are insanely crisp, most of the action sequences towards the latter half of the film are also nothing short of spectacular. Sadly when mashed together, it just becomes 160 minutes of visually confusing garbage. Bay seems to derive great satisfaction from banging his expensive toys together, not because they make narrative sense, but because he enjoys listening to the sound they make, complete with excessively dramatic instrumentals playing in the background.
Characterization wise, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is basically your classic, cautionary of tale of too many cooks and too little broth. It’s not merely the alien androids who are fighting one another, everyone from Mr. Tom-Cruise-esque-narcissist-Le-Beouf to a sorely miscast Dempsey, Ken Jeong (The Hangover series, Pineapple Express) filling a rather silly, one-dimensional cameo, as well as Julie White and Kevin Dunn reprising their parental roles from the previous films, all seem to be wrestling for the spotlight. Victoria’s Secret alumnus and the world’s number ONE hottest woman according to Maxim, FHM and Details Magazine, Huntington-Whiteley comes across so flat and boring that she makes Fox look like Meryl Streep. One can think of a million other ways screen time could have been better spent, like giving the deliciously villainous Megatron more dialogue. Wildly talented actors John Malkovich and a wonderfully hilarious, Dutch-infused Alan Tudyk (Knocked Up, Death at a Funeral) are similarly wasted on Bay’s incessant obsession with messy destruction and sexy models.
The first Transformers movie was sublimely funny and actually engaging, Revenge of the Fallen was insipid in parts but largely bearable, while Dark of the Moon is unfortunately, merely a twisted product of an indulgent director’s penchant for blowing things up.