Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey
Yes, it’s better than the last Transformers movie, but that doesn’t keep Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon from being the most obnoxious, noisy, tedious, ugly waste of film this year. In its own peculiar way, I suppose that’s something of an accomplishment. In that same vein, we should pay honor to such other improbable feats as finding an underwear model—Rosie Huntington-Whiteley—who makes the fired Megan Fox look like an accomplished actress, and note Shia LaBeouf’s seemingly effortless ability to get worse with every movie. Much more disturbing, however, is the fact that the American public has already shelled out $162 million to have its senses bombarded and its intelligence insulted, while the rest of the world has ponied up an additional $210 million. Kind of makes you want to retire to Sussex and keep bees, doesn’t it?
Of course, the idea that Mr. Bay’s latest mess of excess is better than the previous one isn’t predicated on what it has, but rather on what it doesn’t have. The lack of jive-talking comedy-relief robots and a robot with testicles is a plus, but this isn’t to suggest any actual improvement has taken place. And the addition of Ms. Huntington-Whiteley and Mr. LaBeouf’s increasingly incomprehensible “acting style” may make those omissions pretty much a wash. Apparently, it’s supposed to be disturbing that Bay has recycled footage from The Island (2005). I find it more alarming that anyone knew The Island well enough to notice.
So what do you get for your investment? Well, apart from a great deal of noisy CGI “spectacle” involving giant robots beating each other up and causing massive digital destruction, there’s a sort of a plot that might make sense if you’re careful not to examine it. Seems that the entire space program of the 1960s was due to a desire to find out what crashed on the moon—conveniently, the dark side of the moon. This, of course, turns out to be an Autobot (those are the good robots) ship with a mysterious cargo and the big cheese Autobot Sentinel Prime (given voice by Leonard Nimoy apparently channeling John Huston). We know he’s the oldest and wisest bot because he has a stringy bot beard. (Is anyone over 12 still reading this?)
While he’s being jump-started by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen), the head Decepticon Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving) has lumbered back into business. He appears to be missing half of his brain, but is still functional (perhaps he should found a political movement) and still bent on world domination. There’s duplicity afoot, too—not to mention a lot of pointless digressions (why is the John Malkovich character even in this thing?)—in both human and autobot agencies. None of this should surprise anyone, but in case it might, I’ll leave you to discover it on your own.
All this nonsense is leading up to an endless bout of rock-‘em sock-‘em robot action that devastates Chicago, while an evil plan so scientifically idiotic that Roland Emmerich might have questioned its believability unfolds. It’s the sort of thing that will doubtless appeal to those who like to use phrases involving “check your brain at the door and enjoy the carnage” to justify the onscreen silliness. And no doubt that’s the concept that will be used to defend this rubbish—along with “you’re taking this too seriously.” But really, if a movie insists on frittering away over two-and-a-half hours of my time, yeah, I’m going to insist on something more than “stuff blows up neat.” Rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.