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Movie Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)




If you're watching the third film in the Transformers movie franchise for any other reason than to see giant robots smash everything around them into tiny pieces, you'll likely be disappointed. The plot is even more of a convoluted, melodramatic mess than its predecessor and an overabundance of characters, both human and machine, leave the story a confusing mishmash of borrowed ideas - from bad sci-fi flicks. Michael Bay's infamous love of slow-motion and revolving cameras accents an eye-rolling silliness that might not have been as apparent otherwise, and the creators' desires to conjure up increasingly bigger and badder Transformers forces the action to steer towards the realm of unfathomably unrealistic. At least the state-of-the-art special effects complement the colossal automatons - because little else does.

Though a two-time savior of Earth from the threat of the evil, advanced alien race of Decepticons, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) still finds himself unemployed and unable to contribute to the ongoing efforts to keep the planet safe. When an ancient Cybertronian device is discovered on Earth, the leader of the peacekeeping Autobots, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) determines to reactivate their previous leader, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) to help protect the technology from the scheming Decepticon Megatron (Hugo Weaving). With the battle once again returning home, Sam, his former military allies, his new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), and the dauntless Autobots must wage war against insurmountable odds to free their home from total destruction.

Although Megan Fox wasn't the main appeal of the first film (admittedly she was about the only thing left in the second feature worth looking at), surprisingly, her replacement will cause audiences to miss her presence. Model-turned-one-time-actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley doesn't add anything to the incredibly lengthy project and her role is made visually apparent with repeated shots of form-fitting clothing, slender legs and pouty lips. It's almost as nagging as the leftover characters continually dropped into the storyline from the previous outings: John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel no longer have a purpose, but are brought back for the sake of a larger, recognizable cast (and perhaps contractual obligations).

The new additions are certainly no better. John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk and Ken Jeong are among the most noteworthy, all inserted purely for comic relief - the one element a Transformers movie couldn't possibly use less. Their characters are part of a series of bizarre inclusions that continue to stretch the weirdness boundaries of the Transformers universe - along with puerile presidential footage alterations, Witwicky screaming incessantly, overdramatic slow-motion and ridiculous speeches intended to be rousing. On top of that are the abundant clich├ęs - a female National Intelligence Director insistent on preaching chain of command lingo and barking orders to deaf ears, stagey posing before and after battles, a destructive chase sequence on a highway, an overconfident, impossibly wealthy businessman who interferes with Sam's self esteem, and a final, epic, sustained fight that stretches over 30 minutes.

It's only the third movie and writer Ehren Kruger has completely run out of ideas, while director Michael Bay proves once again that his obsession with slow motion and cameras moving in circles around actors can ruin any moment. The editing remains incredibly annoying while the choreography continues to be overly complex, the robots largely indistinguishable, and the action exhaustive. Transformers just aren't fun anymore.

- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)


The Massie Twins are identical twin film critics who have been professionally reviewing movies full time for over 5 years, appearing on TV, radio, online and in print. They are members of the Phoenix Film Critics Society and the Internet Film Critic Society and their work can be seen at GoneWithTheTwins.com

By Joel Massie

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