Giant robots, big explosions and lots of cheesy dialogue fill up the third installment of the Transformers movie franchise.
I went into this with low expectations. I'll admit I was impressed by the trailer but knew that didn't really mean a lot. I had fun with the first Transformers but with Revenge of the Fallen...let's just say I've tried to forget as much as I can about it. The key in seeing this movie is to keep in mind what it's supposed to be. It's a movie about giant robots. That and giant explosions are what we want to see.
As an action film/summer popcorn movie, it's far from perfect. It's almost like we are obliged to suffer through weak attempts at humor and character development. People are going to see this movie for the Transformers. Does anyone really care about the human actors? I understand that there has be something viewers can connect with and a reason for the Autobots to fight for Earth, but I don't need little interactions that come across as flat.
Why don't we begin with Sam (Shia LaBeof) Witwicky's girlfriend Carly (played by Rosie Huntington-Whitely). This is who replaces Megan Fox. There are even a couple minor digs at Fox in the movie as we are lead to believe she is the one for Sam. Part of the summer blockbuster formula is to have a love interest in the movie but again, this isn't why we're seeing the movie (at least it's not for me).
The character of Carly isn't as annoying as Fox's character was and she serves a minor role as a plot element but I don't care if Sam has a new girlfriend. Her opening scene plays almost like a Victoria's Secret commercial and it's revealed right away why she was hired for the job. We're supposed to believe that she is the one for Sam but while watching, I just didn't care. We get a look at how their relationship developed and what it's about but it just felt so meaningless. I didn't get the connection they had. I didn't buy it and wasn't interested.
If nothing else, her character shows an uncanny ability to run through and survive an epic battle between the Transformers without snapping a heel on her designer shoes (something that so easily happens in other movies).
What about the rest of the cast? I don't know if it was meant to be a surprise or if I just did a great job avoiding as much about the movie as possible but there were some surprise casting/cameos in the movie. I don't know if the actors asks Michael Bay to be in the film or if it was the other way around. Some of them worked well but again, they are not why we want to see the movie. Clearly they were not necessary. Their scenes pushed the movie along but also added to the length of the film.
I actually didn't mind the story that much. If you've seen the trailer, you know there is a connection to the first lunar landing and also the reason the movie is subtitled Dark of the Moon. This little dark secret gives the movie the element needed to drive the plot along. It should be clear that we are seeing new Transformers and so there would be the question of where are they coming from? There is also another tie to a certain event that occurred in the 80s and, once again, I thought it fit in nicely, even it was a little cliché.
The action we get is very nicely done. The 3D really worked as well. There were moments I didn't notice or remember the movie was in 3D but there were also scenes that looked really cool. Big Transformer battles in 3D, that's what justifies the price of the movie ticket. The Transformers are the star of the movie. We don't need the human characters or special cameos by other actors. It's all supposed to be about the Autobots versus the Decepticons and trying to find a place to live and survive. When we get the inevitable next sequel, let's hope that the story does center more around the Transformers and less around the human subplots.
At over two and a half hours, there were points where the movie felt it was dragging on a little. This isn't too bad of a thing since there is a lot that goes on in this movie. If we've learned anything from Green Lantern, too much crammed into less that two hours is too much. The battle in Chicago was drawn out and it deservedly should have been. The scale of the battle and the destruction isn't something that could be glossed over. It's not a fight we've seen in the other movies and is definitely beyond anything from the animated shows. People (and Transformers) die.
It might be that I grew up outside of Chicago but there was something in seeing the battle and destruction take place in the city. We've all seen the apocalyptic battles take place in real settings in plenty of movies and the ability to portray that destruction isn't a new thing. In this movie, you do get a sense of how intense the destruction is. The damage combined with the human casualties brought the movie up a level in my mind. Whether it's because I'm forcing the bad memories out of mind, I don't recall this feeling in the other two films. You simply get that underlying feeling of dread seeing the chaos on the screen.
The new Transformers we see are pretty cool. It does help to set up insane odds against the Autobots rather than another movie with the same old 'bots fighting each other. Sentinel Prime brings a new element to the movie that you might not expect. Shockwave causes some major destruction. We also get to see Optimus Prime with some new toys as he delivers what might be the most epic fight of his career.
Of course you have some stereotypical Transformers meant to provide more comedy relief. It's to be expected. Without these little elements (and those with the humans), the movie would just be about robotic battles. That sure does sound great but could get old as sensory overload would begin to set in.
There is also the dialogue that can be bothersome. How many times do we need to see and hear the speech given to the troops? Both humans and Autobots deliver the speech at different points. I love Peter Cullen as Optimus but is it really necessary to have him give another rendition in the opening? Do we really need to see the soldiers told that they are the only line of defense and see them wholeheartedly volunteer to put their lives at risk? Let's not forget the patriotic moments. I love the USA myself but even I cringe a tiny bit each time you see someone posturing with an America flag waving in the background.
The music was also a distraction at times. In what might be a tradition in Transformer films, you get those epic power ballads to further emphasize the mood and ominous threat looming on the horizon. It's not a secret that studios want to sell movie soundtracks as well as other merchandise but I just don't need music blasted at me during the middle of a movie.
Is this a great movie? No. Is it the best summer movie this year? Not necessarily. Will you enjoy it? It's possible. You have to keep in mind what this movie is about. It's not meant to be a classic in filmography. It's giant robots and lots of explosions. The cheesy dialogue and forced comedic moments can get annoying. We have too many attempts at character/relationship developments. We get epic battles and loads of destruction. People and Autobots are gravely injured. The 3D works the movie managed to exceed my low expectations. It's definitely better than the last film and if you know what you're getting yourself into, you'll probably have a good time watching this one.
And there is no footage after the credits so you do not need to stick around.