Movie Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
By Jim Van Nest
June 28, 2011
All of our favorite characters return for the three-quel, including John Turturro's even wealthier Simmons and Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel's super soldiers. Added to the mix this time around are John Malkovich in an entertaining (if not bizarre) turn as Sam's boss, Bruce, along with The Hangover's breakout star Ken Jeong as Jerry, Sam's unlucky co-worker, as well as Frances McDormand as the untrusting head of the Secret Service. Also added this time around are Patrick Dempsey as Carly's boss and potential suitor, Alan Tudyk as Simmons' assistant Dutch and Leonard Nimoy, who joins the cast as the voice of Optimus Prime's mentor, Sentinel Prime.
The main difference between Dark of the Moon and its predecessors is that they seem to have put some thought into the plot. This one actually has a story that you can follow and care about. The wit seems to have been put back into the script as there are several laugh out loud moments, most of which come from LaBeouf, at his sarcastic, smart-assed best. Bay seemed to listen to his audience by seriously toning down the two little Autobots that so many accused of being racist characters in Transformers 2. The one down spot is the performance of Huntington-Whitely. While absolutely gorgeous, her performance was pretty wooden, even for a Transformers film. However, dumping Fox was such a piece of addition by subtraction that Huntington-Whitely's shortcomings are a very small blip on the radar.
There are definitely holes in the plot and the movie and there are a couple characters that have a lot of promise and are kind of wasted in the third act. But none of that really matters as the stars of this film are the effects and the 3D treatment. I'm not a huge fan of the new 3D movement. I loved the 3D in Avatar, but hated it in almost everything else. Dark of the Moon goes in the Avatar column. Say what you will about Michael Bay, but he knows his way around the technology department. The 3D in this one really pops off the screen and adds quite a bit to the thrill of the action sequences. And the special effects on this one are top notch. I mean, they absolutely destroy Chicago and it looks so real I expect them to still be cleaning up the next time I visit. A minor complaint for the Cardinal fan...would it have killed you to have the robots take out Wrigley Field?
While there are a handful of "oh come on, there's no way that could have happened" moments, but overall, if you're willing to believe that there are two races of robots (that turn into cars) having a civil war on Earth, I think you can roll with the fact that there's no way Sam should be able to catch his girlfriend and prevent her from falling to her doom.
Also of note in this film are the stunts. Again, they're top notch. From running through buildings that are literally falling in around them to an absolutely breathtaking sequence of several of the servicemen diving out of a helicopter to use their flying "squirrel-suits". This is a very slick technical film all the way around. And even through the sucky second film, the Transformer "sounds" were always cool and they remain every bit as cool as ever.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a true summer blockbuster. It's a larger than life, over the top, complete blast of a film and I would think that most anyone checking it out will come out of it feeling entertained. Other than some potential technical awards, no one from the film will be coming onto the Oscar stage to pick up their hardware, but this is just a super fun popcorn flick and you could do a lot worse with your $10 movie ticket money. So put the crapfest that was Transformers 2 out of your mind and check out Transformers 3 and see if you agree with me that it is easily the best of the trilogy.