With the 4th of July weekend upon us, what better way to celebrate than to go to the movies and watch stuff get blowed up real good? There’s isn’t, so that’s what I did. Yesterday, my wife and I took in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The Paramount film, rated PG-13, stars Shia LaBoeuf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and the voices of Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Leonard Nimoy, Charles Adler, Jess Harnell, and Frank Welker. Reading the novelization of this movie gave me such joy and hope for the film. Then, I read the reviews. Which way would I lean on this? Let’s find out.
The film begins with a battle on Cybertron being narrated by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). He explains that a shuttle piloted by Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) that had untold technology was leaving Cybertron when it was attacked and left to drift aimlessly through space. It ends up crashing on the moon in 1961, which kicks off the space race. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin accept a special mission by Sector Seven to investigate the crash landing. They discover the Ark, and set about collecting information to bring to Earth. Fast forward to present day, where Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBoeuf) is living with his new girlfriend, Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whitely) and struggling to find a job post-graduation. He eventually finds one – thanks to Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey), Carly’s boss – where things are not as they seem. It turns out that the Decepticons are killing humans now, and the movie kicks off from there.
So, what worked in this movie? Well, the score was great – as usual. Steve Jablonsky really put a lot of work into this one, and it shows. Quite a bit of the CGI looked good as well. as some of the action scenes were quite epic. One scene in particular that involved Shia LaBoeuf, Bumblebee, errant Decepticon vehicles, and an awesome transformation sequence, was done very well. For a newcomer, Rosie Huntington-Whitely was very capable in her role, and Tyrese Gibson didn’t annoy me like I thought he would. Quite a bit of the cinematography was sweeping as well, and it didn’t include the usual Bay-isms like I thought they would. Now, if it seems like I’m stretching, that’s because I am.
Now, what didn’t work? In short, everything else. John Malkovich must have been broke in making this movie, because he was horrible and pointless. Ken Jeong had a brief moment in here that was Hangover-like, but it actually read better than it displayed onscreen. Julie White and Kevin Dunn – while they didn’t annoy me too much in the beginning – really pissed me off about halfway through this one. Actually, let me take that back…Julie White’s character pissed me off. After her rant about how her own son could only get beautiful women based on…well…size, I checked out of the movie. I tried to check back in later, but by that time, it was too late. I no longer cared, and I just wanted it to end.
Michael Bay returns to direct this movie, and it’s at this point where I implore him to stop. Michael Bay should just create a whole new genre of movies: Pornographic Action. Why? Because that appears to be all he’s good at. He can direct the hell out of an action scene, but Carly’s introduction screen was filmed so erotically that I could’ve sworn someone ran out to go get a tissue. After another one of her scenes, my wife turned to me and pointed out that he has no respect for his female leads. Honestly, I couldn’t help but agree. When it came to directing Shia LaBoeuf, it’s almost as if he told him to just scream and act skittish all the time. That worked well in the first one, a little bit of it worked in the second one. In this one, it was grating.
Hate is a very strong word. I try my best not to use it unless I absolutely have to. In this case, I think it’s apropos; I hated this movie. It was a giant bag of fail, and it really made me angry. I don’t go to the movies to be angry, I go to be entertained. Outside of the score, there was nothing to entertain me in this film at all, and that hurts me to say, because I grew up with the Transformers, and I am a huge fan of the franchise. It’s my hope that they reboot this in a few years and get a director who actually wants to do the movie and isn’t in it for a paycheck. I should’ve known I was in trouble when my brother-in-law said it was the best movie he had ever seen, because our likes in movies are counterpoint to each other. So, with that being said, I give this movie what it earnestly deserves: the Batman & Robin of the More Epic than Love Jones scale. Don’t waste your time, your money, or your energy on this. I got free passes, and I wish I could get my money back. That alone should tell you something.
To Michael Bay, from the bottom of my heart…fuck you.