Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review
Michael Bay's Transformers series has a rather infamous reputation. To be fair, people liked the first one. The second, Revenge of the Fallen, destroyed the box office, but got pretty negative reviews. Why? You know the story, Transformers were taken out of the screen time in favor for lots of crude humor. While the first film did have those negatives, it was relatively well-paced and an alright start for the franchise. Revenge of the Fallen took what was negative about the first, and increased it ten-fold. As Dark of the Moon approached, Michael Bay even said that Revenge of the Fallen didn't turn out the way he wanted. (Right.) He said Dark of the Moon would be the best one yet, with lead actor Shia Labeouf saying, "It's going to be the craziest action movie ever made, or we failed." Have they failed? That's what I wanted to find out. And I did.
The story begins with a flashback to 1961, about the Apollo 11's landing on the dark side of the moon. They find a mysterious spacecraft with technology beyond their understanding. Inside, they find an inactive robot, which means one thing.....we are not alone. It was the most well-kept secret for years, until now. An invasion is coming, and even the Autobots may not be able to stop it.
Believe it or not, I wasn't a big Transformers fan when I saw the first two films. The only two characters I knew where Optimus and Megatron. That was it. When I saw the second film, I decided that I was going to delve deep into the franchise, because these characters interested me. I liked this satellite one from Revenge of the Fallen, a Decepticon called "Soudwave." Thus I had a starting point. I went back to my Revenge of the Fallen video game, re-read my old comics, watched some G1 episodes on YouTube, and currently watching Prime. So I get to review this film as big fan of the franchise. Sorry, I've been talking about the life and times of myself, let's get on to the review. Skip to the last paragraph if you've yet to see it, there will be some spoilers.
Here's the problem. This is not a film about robots with humans as the backdrop, it's about humans with robots as the backdrop. That's the problem with all three films, and Dark of the Moon suffers greatly from that. I could maybe let that slide if ANY of the main performances were half-decent. The scripting is lousy, stuff you'll hear on a Saturday morning cartoon. (Mixed in with Adult Swim humor, not a good thing.) Take out the robots and war backdrop, you have the basis for an R rated comedy.
Shia Lebeouf once again gives a strange performance. I'll admit that he could be funny sometimes, but as the main lead, he's not good enough, I'm sorry. There was this big thing that happened awhile back that changed the way some looked at the film. The main female lead from the first two, Megan Fox, quit for the third. I'm going to say what's obvious, she wasn't in the films for her acting credibility, she was there purely to help sell the film with looks. So when she left, someone had to take her place. Instead of hiring a seasoned veteran actress, you know what they do? They hire a Victoria's Secret model with no acting experice in the form of Rosie Huntington Whiteley. What?! So instead of hiring someone who could have given this film a little class, they hire someone who had NEVER acted in a movie before. Isn't it sad that a film relies on eye candy and mindless explosions rather than having a well-paced story to tell? Apparently it does, and succeeds, cause according to the stats, it dethroned Return of the King. (Now I know humanity has lost it.)
Of course, the main reason why we're watching this thing is for the robots. The scenes with them are always a treat, it's nice to see them rendered with great CGI. Optimus Prime as always is the most fleshed out and gives the audience a reason to watch these films. With his great quotes and Peter Cullen as his voice, he's truly great. But it's actually Soundwave's robot vulture Laserbeak who stole the show. Transformer purists probably won't like that they gave him the ability to talk, or his transformation ability. I for one thought they were both awesome inclusions. In G1, Laserbeak was always this silent thing Soundwave sent out to do missions, this film gave him character, his scenes were pretty horrifically awesome. Megatron is pretty much a chump the whole film, he doesn't appear that much, and is beaten up the whole time. His end is also pretty quick. Starscream in this film is one of the more accurate ones. My main bot Soundwave gets a nice little role here. It's nice to see him participating in the action, though he needed a heck lot more screen time.
One of my major criticisms with this film was the hardly-appeared Shockwave. This guy was marketed as the main villain, seen on the posters and everything. I remember the first major announcement, saying that Shockwave would be the villain. He appears near beginning of the film for a few seconds, then disappears until the invasion. He doesn't even get a big fight. Major disappointment there.
Sentinel Prime is portrayed as an ancient Prime would.......for the beginning. His betrayal and emergence as the main villain was unexpected, but didn't fit. As a Prime, he wasn't the Fallen, it just didn't make sense. The more logical thing would have been to him team up with Optimus and the Autobots against Shockwave and the invasion. So, not a big fan of that turn of events.
Things that don't make sense to me include the appearence of Carly. (Rosie Huntington Whiteley.) It doesn't make sense to me because Sam's past girlfriend is barely touched upon besides being heard that "she dumped him." The transition just isn't smooth. Like, if you were to watch the three films back-to-back, the third film would feel a bit out of place in that part. Also, the death of Ironhide was dramatic, but isn't touched upon or seen as a major factor. I mean, not even Optimus addressed it. Also, an annoyance, (big one for me) is that a scout like Bumblebee, could beat a communications officer like Soundwave? Absurd.
There are some really epic action pieces. Optimus's fight with Sentinel Prime being a highlight. The intro flashback to the war for cybertron was truly a treat and a taste of what a full blown prequel would look like. I'm sure the final forty minutes of this film looked amazing in the IMAX. The film's sountrack is decent enough, with two standout tunes. Could have been better though.
Overall, Dark of the Moon was a disappointment. It's far superior to Revenge of the Fallen, and maybe slightly better than the first. Once again, it suffers from too much unnecessary bad humor, bad performances, and too much screen time on the humans and not enough on the bots. Sam's parents could have been easily cut, they have ZERO significance in the film. To sum up the very cheesy scripting, here's a short quote. "I want to matter!" -Sam Witwicky, talking to Carly on why he feels like a helpless person. Ah, that line just might be the best, I'll never forget the ridiculousness of it. The only other line in movie history movie I know that is even more ridiculous was from the Asylum's Alien vs. Hunter. "Don't do! Don't do!" -The unmemorable main character from that Alien vs. Predator rip-off. Still, Dark of the Moon has some pretty amazing set pieces. Near the middle, with Megatron, Starscream, and Soundwave, felt like an episode from G1! The action is by far the best in the trilogy, the final forty minutes being one of the most epic forty minutes in movie history.