Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

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Transformers: Dark of the moon is the third and final instalment from the acclaimed big budget movie director Michael Bay. This  movie picks up three years after the second movie (Revenge of the Fallen) left off with Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) now having graduated from college and been dumped by Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox). He is now living in Washington DC with his new-found flame, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) while the Autobot’s are working closely with the NEST Special Forces operatives to hunting down the remaining Decepticon’s on earth.

The story this time is revolves around humanity finding that the whole reason there was a space race in the 1960’s was to be the first to investigate a crashed alien space ship on the moon. On this spaceship, known as the Ark, is a great Autobot known as Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) who carries with him a great weapon of power, which was meant to change the tides of war in the battle for Cybertron. When evidence emerges of this crash landing, a race for control over this weapon begins between the Autobot’s and Decepticon’s with the human race stuck in the middle

The first outing of this movie series was quite a good adaptation and was well received by both critics and audiences alike. The second movie though was panned by critics for its child like treatment of the audience, over complex action sequences, and highly racist stereotypes. The audience loved this movie, as shown by its takings of $800 million from the box office, making a sequel very well justified decision from the studio.

John Malkovich feels a little out-of-place here

One of major issues that I have with this movie is the character of Optimus Prime, from what I recall of him from the animated series and what was portrayed in the first movie, he is  a leader who is fair, just, brave, and seeking to bring peace to his race after the destruction of his home planet. Ever since the second movie, he moved away from this personality type towards a more aggressive nature and it is in the final set piece of this movie that we see such a shift be so prominent.  Please note that this next paragraph contains some spoilers for the end.

During the final battle with Sentinel Prime, Megatron joins the battle and takes both Optimus and Sentinel off guard. Optimus takes the chance to deliver a final blow to Megatron as he taunts the hero by placing his battle-axe through his already wounded head before tearing  it off. After knocking Sentinel Prime to the floor he proceeds to take Megatron’s shotgun like weapon from the floor and execute Sentinel Prime in cold blood as he pleads for mercy. To quote my girlfriend, “since when did Optimus Prime become Dirty Harry?” In days of old Optimus would have listened to his pleas and offered him a chance of redemption; instead all he offers is a swift and painful death.

At a running time of over 157 minutes (2 hrs 27 minutes) this feels not only long but dragged out with parts of the movie feeling like they are on screen for longer that they actually are. Yet, there are points where the movie appears to edit the action and offer the audience a shorter version of events, in an effort speed up the story by offering flashes of action that take place. Personally, I think they should have not bothered with some of the scenes in the first half of movie to favour these more action oriented sequences.

In addition to the editing there is an issue with this movie as a whole, it has a split personality. It’s has two halves, with one half being the we have the uncomfortable comedy movie and the other a high-octane action movie. With the humour, it feels very forced upon the audience such as in the first hour where we are treated to a sequence of events containing John Malkovich and Ken Jeong playing stereotypical comedy characters in an office , appearing out-of-place with the movie itself.

Thankfully the other half of this movie, the high-octane action side, offers some saving graces of this movie. It has an immense sense of scale (although this could be from the IMAX screen I saw the movie on) with this movie taking place in multiple shooting locations like Chicago, Washington DC, Kennedy Space Centre and with shots on the Moon (or rather a CGI based set of the Moon).

This is shown ever so well in the final 45 minutes of the movie as we enter into the final big battle sequence between the Autobot’s and Decepticon’s in a battle ravaged Chicago. Michael Bay is a master at the visual here, taking what other people wouldn’t think of and making it happen.

A shot from the Wingsuit sequence

Here he takes the same 3D shooting technology that James Cameron developed for Avatar and takes it  into the real world, strapping it to cranes for high aerial shots in both night and day. It is in one of these Michael Bay moments that we get a masterpiece of movie making in the form of a stunt where the NEST special forces team, donning Wingsuit’s, glide their way through the narrows of the Chicago skyline.

The visuals of this movie are well complimented by some good sound work aided with the musical scorings of Steve Jablonsky whose musical queues help to add a sense of drama to the action taking place. You cannot fault the big names with the cast either, Shia LaBeouf brings a real sense of ownership to the character while Hugo Weaving (Megatron) , Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime), and Leonard Nimoy (Sentinel Prime) help to create the personalities of these well-loved characters, allowing the audience a chance to connect with these 20 foot tall computer generated characters.

Ultimately this movie is not aimed at the fans of the first movie or to those people who enjoyed the 1980’s animated cartoon. The characters have been refreshed for the modern age with morals and attitudes more inline with those seen  in many of the big action Hollywood movies of the 21st century.

The saving points of this movie allows the original fans to enjoy at least parts of this movie, which is an improvement over the last outing of this series on the big screen. The movie is aimed mainly at those people who enjoyed the over the top action that the second movie offered with more shine and polish than its predecessor, in essence it is a true sequel to Revenge of the Fallen – a much better version of its original.

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My name is DrDogbert I'm a Movie geek, Gamer, reader, writer, down right plain normal guy who likes to talk to himself at times