Feb 4, 2017
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) (part 1 of 11)
The Cast of Characters:
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Our “hero” from the first two movies, back yet again. This time he’s got an Ivy League diploma, a new, insanely hot girlfriend, and an astonishing new home. On the other hand, he doesn’t have a job, so we can totally empathize with him.
Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whitely). Sam’s new, insanely hot girlfriend, replacing the previous insanely hot girlfriend. Her primary role in this movie is… is… actually, I’m not sure. You could edit out every scene she’s in without making a difference. A role for a woman that’s about nothing but her looks? Must be a Michael Bay film.
Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey). A handsome, smart, rich CEO who clearly wants to sleep with Carly. No doubt he will end up being a heroic good-guy.
Charlotte Mearing (Frances McDormand). Director of National Intelligence. [ insert obligatory Fargo reference HERE ]
Seymour Simmons (John Turturro). Back again. I have no further thoughts on this, except to say that, blessedly, we don’t see his ass in this movie.
Jerry ”Deep” Wang (Ken Jeong). Just typing out that character’s name makes me feel depressed and annoyed. I’m going to go pop some happy-happy pills, and then finish this.
Ron and Judy Witwicky (Kevin Dunn and Julie White). Back again to annoy their son and make the audience cringe.
Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). Everyone’s favorite Autobot is back to spout pompous statements on the nature of freedom and to teach the American government a lesson!
Bumblebee (voiced by your iPod’s playlist). Yep, he still can’t talk. In this movie, he gets so much verbal abuse from Sam that I expect his next film to be a Lifetime Original called Bumblebee: Silent Tears.
Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy). The original Spock, who, along with Frank Welker and Peter Cullen, was also in the original Transformers animated movie. I bet he’d like to forget that. I bet in retrospect he’d like to forget this, too.
Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving, though still not so you’d notice). Back again. This time instead of being irrelevant for 2/3 of the film, like in the first movie, and 3/4 of the film, like in the second, he’s irrelevant for almost the entire movie.
Laserbeak (Keith Szarabajka). Soundwave’s assassin, who has a far larger role to play in this movie than Megatron does. Sadly, that’s not a joke.
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The critics rave about Transformers: Bark at the Moon!
“At 157 minutes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn’t just a movie. It’s a sentence.” –John Anderson, Wall Street Journal
“… there is something so sour and unpleasant about the new film that it left me almost nostalgic for the innocent idiocies of its predecessor.” –Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
“… it takes a certain talent to create as much action as Bay does without generating an ounce of excitement.” –John Puccio, DVDtown.com
“… a visually ugly film with an incoherent plot, wooden characters and inane dialog. It provided me with one of the more unpleasant experiences I’ve had at the movies.” –Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Well, here we go again. Michael Bay is inflicting, once more, another Transformers movie on us. At the end of my recap of the second film, I said this:
“There’s still good material that can be had here for a third movie. It’d be nice to see the Dinobots and to introduce characters like Ultra Magnus, Springer, Hot Rod and Galvatron (ideally with Leonard Nimoy doing the voice), and let’s perhaps move the story into space. Bring on Shockwave, Skywarp and Thundercracker. Move the story to Cybertron. Bring out Unicron. Any of these things could help make the next movie better.”
Well, I got Leonard Nimoy and I got Shockwave, but… wow, I really wish I hadn’t. Otherwise, nothing on that list ended up happening. What did happen? One of the worst summer films of all time. Let’s all grit our teeth and power through this, shall we?
We open with Optimus Prime doing a voiceover talking about the war. This happens over some rather lovely shots of Cybertron, reminding me again that the films would likely be much better if they had more of a science fiction aspect to them.
A ship leaves Cybertron. It turns out to have a cargo that would have somehow enabled the Autobots to win. The ship gets attacked and goes hurtling through space. Meantime, at the Very Large Array, it’s 1961, and scientists are apparently tracking the ship somehow. They follow the ship as it crashes on the Moon, and apparently they can tell that it’s artificial. I have no idea how they know that, but they do, and they relay this information to the NASA director at Langley, Virginia.
We then move on to the White House, where Robert McNamara briefs President Kennedy on the impact; an event so important it causes the movie to turn to black and white. This happens only for a few seconds, and then the movie starts using some sort of 8mm-style film stock. I have no idea why Michael Bay decided to go this route. I suspect him of trying to prove he’s a director. No fears there, Mr. Bay. We see your name on the credits. We know exactly who’s responsible for this movie.
Anyhow, Kennedy pushes for America to head to the moon. Yes, it turns out that the entire reason for the space race was so that we could get up to the moon and investigate this alien tech. This makes sense to someone somewhere, I suppose, though not to anyone I’d care to hang out with.
I will give Bay credit for some of the scenes coming up. The shots of Apollo 11 arriving at the moon are very well done, and we get a real sense of accomplishment and wonderfulness when we think about what NASA managed to do by getting us to the moon.
Of course this can’t last, and pretty soon we find out that there’s been a “loss of signal” (which there wasn’t, see here), and that it’s caused by NASA turning off communications with the outside world so that Neil and Buzz can investigate the crashed spacecraft. Soon we go from the moon back to earth, where Apollo 11 has delivered a cache of Autobot tech! Not bad.
Then we go to the title and fast forward to the modern day with this shot.
Good to see that Michael Bay is delivering what we’ve come to expect of him.