Newest Review: ... things, over-loading the film's exhausting running time of two and a half hours with betrayals, more sub-plots than its simple characte... more
Transformed into Garbage
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (DVD)
Member Name: SWSt
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (DVD)
Advantages: Effective use of 3D for once
Disadvantages: Far too long, loud and stupid
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an unbelievable film that achieves the impossible: it makes all of Michael Bay's previous cinematic output seem more subtle, wittier and cleverer than the entire works of Shakespeare, Wilde and Dickens rolled into one. Yes, the undisputed King of Explosions and Helicopters has worked his "magic" once more, churning out a film which is even less subtle than the much-maligned Transformers 2.
The plot of Dark of the Moon (I'm assured there is one) is stupid even by Michael Bay's standards. Apparently, the conspiracy theorists were half right. The moon landings of 1969 were staged to recover a piece of lost Autobot technology, kept hidden by NASA for over 40 years. Naturally, those stoopid astronauts messed it up and left half of the really good stuff up there, leading to a modern day race where the Autobots try to reach it before the evil Decepticons get their hands on it.
On the plus side, Transformers 3 is a film which actually makes reasonable use of 3D. It has clearly been filmed with 3D in mind and, whilst you could watch it in 2D, that would simply make it even less enjoyable, which is in itself some sort of achievement. Every scene is set up in such a way that it makes use of 3D and it could be argued (as ever) that Bay overdoes it. Barely a moment goes by without something exploding and whizzing out at the screen towards you. As with many things, familiarity breeds contempt and the over-use of 3D soon becomes annoying, rather than impressive.
From the very first minute, the film is too in-your-face to be terribly likeable. It feels more like an assault upon the senses than a pleasurable cinematic experience. It also shows a distinct lack of imagination, either recycling scenes or ideas from earlier films or relying on over-the-top set pieces to see it through. The ever-attention deficient Mister Bay is barely able to go two minutes without blowing something up or having a robot fight with another robot. Impressive though some of these actions sequences are (particularly in 3D), they are wildly overused. There are only so many times you can watch one lump of metal hit another lump of metal before it starts to get boring; a point Transformers 3 never quite seems to understand. Spectacular set-pieces are all well and good, but they need something to tie them together (other than just a bit of running around). To grossly misquote the Bible, man cannot live by explosions, massive robots and helicopters alone
As a result of his refusal to use one set-piece where 7 can be crammed in, Dark of the Moon suffers from that long-standing Michael Bay ailment: "too-longitis." You will be yearning for the end credits at least an hour before they arrive. The only exception to this is 10 year old boys with ADHD, an attention span of less than 5 seconds and an IQ which is smaller than their shoe size who have spent all afternoon overdosing on sickly snacks full of E-numbers and artificial additives. They will love it and will probably emerge from the cinema proclaiming it to be "the best film ever made" and proceed to recreate the metallic mayhem on their poor younger siblings. Anyone who doesn't fit these criteria will come out slightly shell-shocked at the sudden realisation that they are each £10-15 worse off.
Parents should actually think quite carefully before letting their little darlings in to see this. For a PG, I was surprised at the level of violence and how graphically it was portrayed. Robots get sliced in two, have their heads ripped off and their spinal columns torn from their still living bodies, all the while oozing red "oil" that is clearly meant to be blood. If this was being perpetrated on people, it would have an 18 Certificate slapped all over it. Just because the violence is being committed on robots doesn't necessarily make it any less explicit and the potential for upset kids is massive.
Transformers 3 has lost much of the charm that allowed the first film to get away with Bay's brand of over-the-top craziness. The humour feels forced and unfunny, the special effects no longer thrill or amaze and the script feels lame and belaboured. This simply exposes the weak characters which were always there, but who were previously able to hide behind the fun action. John Turturro's twitchy (ex) Agent Simmons added some much needed tongue-in-cheek humour to the earlier films and whilst there's still an element of that here, there's a definite sense of déjà vu. Similarly Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBoeuf) has always been a loser, but a likeable one. Transformers 3 turns him into an annoying, whiny little oik who you wouldn't be sorry to see crushed by a falling Decepticon.
Replacing Megan Fox (conveniently explained away in a single line) is Rosie Huntington-Whitely, whose sole role in the film is to look pretty and vacant... or pretty vacant. Megan Fox might not be the greatest actress in the world, but next to dear old plummy-voiced Rosie, she's a positive Oscar-guzzler. Rosie Huntington-Whitely is to acting what the Faroe Islands are to international football.
Indeed, only John Malkovich (sporting a terrific pair of gnashers) comes close to capturing the sense of glee and slight tongue-in-cheek humour that made the original fun, although his cameo role is sadly all too limited. Even Sam's parents (a comedy highlight of the first film) are tiresome and unfunny here.
There's also more than a faint whiff of Lethal Weapon Syndrome to it. Remember the later Lethal Weapon films that tried to ensure that all the favourite characters returned for each new sequel? Well, Transformers 3 does the same. Pretty much everyone left alive from the earlier films also appear here. Clearly, they all have fantastic agents who negotiated three-film deals snagging them a lasting place in the franchise. This essentially means that all of the characters get lost in the mayhem surrounding them because none are properly developed. Even the purported heroes (Sam and Optimus Prime) get significantly less screen time and character development (if that's possible) than previously.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon has a running time of 157 minutes. This is approximately 156 minutes too long.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Director: Michael Bay
Running time: approx. 157 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2011
Summary: Charmless and Souless Threequel