Transformers: Dark Of The Moon Review

Michael Moran writes for Bleeding Cool. Brendon wants you to know that any pro-Bay sentiments are Michael’s own:

If you have a young son or nephew you’re sure to have seen them at it. Clutching one action figure in each grubby little fist and repeatedly smashing them together as he softly growls to himself the coolest one liners from a dozen superhero movies.

This is the script that was playing in his head as he did that.

Every scene of the new Transformers movie is an action set piece, and every line of dialogue is a smart-ass one-liner.

That’s not intended to denigrate this film. I don’t think that Michael Bay set out to make The Tree Of Life.

Bay, better than any director in Hollywood history, understands the poetry of flying metal. If something on the screen can explode, it’s reasonable to assume that it presently will.

As long as he’s dealing with state-of-the-art military hardware or sentient fighting robots Michael Bay is without peer as a director.

It’s when he has to deal with people that he falls down.

Shia LeBoeuf is on hand again to be the panicky, sweaty-faced avatar for the audience amidst the rock-em sock-em robots. Sam Witwicky is pretty useful as a plot device too. After all, he is the only one of the good guys to work out the Decepticons’ evil plan.

Given that their plan makes absolutely no logical sense at all, that’s pretty impressive work.

I don’t think it would spoil your enjoyment of this film one whit were I to tell you that the Decepticons aimed to place their home planet in orbit around the Earth.

Now: That’s insane gravitationally, because it would certainly tear both planets apart. It’s insane tactically, because the technology involved could just as easily put Cybertron somewhere a good deal further from a planet full of people who were pretty determined to blow the Decepticons to swarf. And it’s insane in filmmaking terms because the target audience saw all the same effects last week in Green Lantern.

The main action of the film revolves around the good guys slowly coming to understand the monstrous improbability of the villains’ plan while Bay smashes all his action figures together and makes the smaller ones say annoying Jar Jar Binks stuff.

There’s a subplot of sorts revolving around Sam Witwicky’s relationship with his unbelievably fruity new girlfriend, played by celebrated bra model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

One hates to be unkind about someone who is working hard to make something of themselves but Huntington-Whiteley is terrible in this film.

She’s given little of substance to do, and she does less. At one point the camera just gawps at her for a full minute as she ignores every building in Chicago exploding around her. I don’t know if it’s her fault or Bay’s but her presence in the film is just toe-curling.

Much as I like Michael Bay, I think he may be the villain here. He just doesn’t seem to be interested in the human characters at all .

There’s a Gumped-in JFK who looks less realistic than the one in Call Of Duty Black Ops and Bay doesn’t care. Buzz Aldrin makes a cameo. Buzz Aldrin! Bay wastes him utterly. Frances McDormand plays an entirely unsympathetic spook who is part adversary, part comic relief. And what in God’s name has happened to John Malkovich?

Patrick Dempsey shows up as a duplicitous slimeball of the old school, and pulls it off fairly well, if a little one-dimensionally. Leonard Nimoy voices new Autobot Sentinel Prime. Bay can’t resist larding Nimoy’s dialogue with Spock quotes. Once would be a cool nod to the fans. Anything more than twice is just plain daft. Guess which way Michael goes?

Further, the script can’t decide whether Sentinel Prime knows everything or nothing about Earth. Certainly he speaks splendid English.

John Tuturro’s back again. It’s not altogether clear why, as there’s no room for his character in this story. Still, he’s a good actor and a fun guy to have around so who are we to begrudge him this bumper payday?

Alan Tudyk from Firefly turns up too. He’s given a character to work with, and that doesn’t work too well so he switches to another one halfway through. It’s to his credit that they both sort of work.

There are plot holes aplenty. More than once a foe is vanquished, only to turn up unharmed in the next action scene.

It should come as no surprise to us that in a movie about philosophical robots there’s a Deus Ex Machina every five minutes.

But you’re not watching Transformers for the script are you? You’re watching it for the spectacle. Here, Bay has no rival.

He has clearly seen Skyline and Battle: Los Angeles and spends the whole last reel of this film teaching the directors of those films just how they should have done their jobs.

The recreation of the Moon landings is great to see in 3D too. And of course the big robot scraps are extraordinary.

How emotionally invested you can get in a fight between two action figures is open to debate however, no matter how many Samuel Barber references are squeaked into the underscore.

This Roboterdammerung is impressive to look at, and fun in parts, but like the talking car showroom that forms the main part of the cast, it’s a little thin on heart.