Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was widely derided (by me) as one of the worst movies ever made. Filmed without a script and consisting of almost three hours of disconnected slow motion robot fighting, its epic failure to make sense was what convinced me that seeing Transformers: Dark of the Moon might not be such a waste of time, because at least I’d get a funny review out of it. Unfortunately, this plan started falling apart even at the trailer stage, when I was able to actually discern a plot that made a kind of sense.
The evil Decepticon robots clash with the good Autobot robots allied with the United States in order to steal a secret weapon that was recovered from a crashed ship on the moon during the Apollo 11 space mission.
But I thought I’d see it anyway because this was a Michael Bay movie, so there was a decent chance the main plot would be so overburdened by superfluous subplots that the whole thing would collapse in on itself like a black hole (kind of like what happened to the first Transformers) movie. Sadly, now that I’ve seen it, I have to report that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the worst thing a movie can be: mediocre.
You might be thinking: why is mediocre the worst thing a movie can be? Surely being terrible is worse? But no, it isn’t. When a movie is good, it’s enjoyable. When a movie is awful, it’s still entertaining to watch it flop around like a dying fish. When a movie is mediocre, it’s just boring. The plot makes sense, but it’s not engrossing. The characters are consistent, but you don’t care about them. The action actually has a point to it, but it’s not exciting. It’s just you, sitting in a dark room for two and a half hours, with some flickering lights playing in front of you.
I yawn at wonton destruction. Especially in slow motion.
There are a few points of ridiculousness in Dark of the Moon. For instance, there’s one part where some people get vaporized and leave their pants behind, carefully singed and arranged on the ground like an urban art project. I also find it hilarious that the robots bleed. They get injured much more easily in this outing, and when they do, their damage parts spew some sort of red fluid – oil, coolant, whatever. It looks like blood, and it is silly.
Also: Megatron looks like Tow Mater from Cars.
It also makes me laugh whenever Optimus Prime gives one of his ridiculous, cheesy, patriotic pep talks, because invariably he does so in front of a waving American flag with bullet holes punched in it, which I’m pretty sure was a device Michael Bay overused in Pearl Harbor as well. What makes it even funnier is that Optimus Prime isn’t even American. He’s not even from Earth!
Freedom is the right of all sentient beings… and the best way to get it
is to pummel the shit out of your enemies!
No doubt his overzealous adherence to the American way of life (and his desire to act like a CIA goon squad, busting Iraqi weapon makers and terrorists) is on account of his friendship with Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) the dorky, annoying human lead in the Transformers films. His girlfriend used to be Megan Fox, but now it’s British Megan Fox (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and how such a scrawny goon managed to land not one but two hot girls is a question even his mother asks.
Shh, mum. We don’t like to bring up the fact that she’s blind, deaf, and has the IQ of a cheese sandwich.
Sam has managed to stumble into saving the world twice, despite the fact that pretty much all he ever does is scream, scrabble around on the ground, fall off of things, and have to be rescued by giant robots. By contrast not-Megan Fox has been tasked to stand there looking pouty while things explode behind her (was she trained by Mark Wahlberg, by any chance?)
Though I don’t remember ever seeing Mark Wahlberg look that stunned.
Both of them are extremely irritating characters. I think I’d like the Transformers movies a lot more if they were centered around hot soldier guy William Lennox (Josh Duhamel). He’s smart, cool, competent, jumps out of airplanes, and did I mention that he’s hot? But I guess Michael Bay figured that the twenty-something nerds whose money he wanted would relate better to Shia La Douche (as my friend Angella calls him), especially if he had a hot girlfriend. It’s the same reasoning that made the Bella character in the Twilight series into a cardboard cutout: she’s a representation of the fans.
Why oh why can’t Transformers fans look like THIS?
So on the plus side, there’s William, and there are also a bunch of great cameos and secondary characters. John Tutrurro returns as a former spy turned rich guy who wants to pick up the hot CIA chief played by Frances McDormand. Patrick Dempsey plays not-Megan Fox’s smarmy employer. Alan Tudyk is an insane German bodyguard/doofus. Leonard Nemoy voices Sentinel Prime, a robot stuck for ages in a crashed Autobot ship. John Malkovich plays Sam’s nutjob boss. Hell, even Buzz Freaking Aldrin is in the movie.
Hello Sam. I’m going to lean over your desk and make you very uncomfortable.
And then there are some cool historical references (among them Chernobyl and Apollo 11) as well as the fact that while still resulting in about $500 million in wonton civic destruction, the plot actually makes sense (it’s not realistic, but it makes sense).
Let’s enslave the Earthlings! But first, we’ll kill them!
Overall, I would say that Dark of the Moon is the best of the Transformers movies. That doesn’t make it good. Even with all the improvements, it still rates lower than the worst incarnations of really good series, like Star Wars Episode I or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In terms of pure enjoyment, I think I would have been happier seeing Monte Carlo. But at least it didn’t make me want to chew off my own arm.