This Monday night I had the chance to screen the new Transformers movie. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, is the third installment of the Transformers series and features such talent as Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky), Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Carly), Josh Duhamel (Lennox), Tyrese Gibson (Epps) and Patrick Dempsey (Dylan). (I prefer Dempsey in scrubs, but that’s just me.) In this release, the Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the dark side of the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.
Taking a Step Back
Before I get too far into this one, let’s take a moment to talk about the first two. The first Transformers movie was incredible, pushing the limit with big fight scenes, cars that transformed into the Autobots (hence the name of both the movie and the machines) and just the sheer “in your face” factor. The second one, however, felt rushed, had some pretty weak acting, and a storyline that felt unfinished. Now we move to a third, and hopefully final, chapter.
Ehren Kruger, who has also worked on films such as The Ring, Arlington Road, and Scream 3, wrote the script. (Not sure why he wrote Scream 3, having not touched the first two.) Unless you have been living under a rock, you are aware that Michael Bay was the one who directed this film. He has worked on some pretty epic films, including the first two Transformers, Pearl Harbor, and Armageddon. Pretty much every film he touches turns to gold.
How did we get here?
I don’t mean that in the literal sense… but for this film in particular. At the start of this movie, you are pretty much told exactly what happened… you hear (and see) part of the back-story, are shown the actual crash on the moon, and even are walked through the moon landing that supposedly happened in 1969. (I still don’t think we have been to the moon… but this isn’t the time or the place for that discussion.)
Then you are back with Sam, in his carefree unemployed ways. Of course, he is dating a hottie, played by English starlet Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. She replaced Megan Fox as the lead female role. (Rosie used to be a Victoria’s Secret model.) Megan Fox has moved on to “bigger and better things” including some movies we have never heard of and a TV show that I have never seen.)
The Acting, in General
The acting is no better than before, and that’s okay. You don’t need great acting when the Autobots are doing more of the on-screen time anyway. I do love the voice of some of these robots. A couple of them have that priceless “million dollar voice” that some actors dream for. Especially Peter Cullen, who pays the voice of Optimus Prime. (He also did the voice for Ironhide in the first Transformers.)
Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance as well. How can you not LOVE that man’s voice?
The humans are just mediocre. Shia is a pretty solid actor, and he doesn’t disappoint. You can always expect a pretty good performance from Patrick as well. But nothing in the film really got me on the edge of my seat. Not that I expected it to… I didn’t come expecting great acting. I came for the Autobots… and the 3D. (Yes, the movie is in 3D. Of course it is in 3D.)
The Machines Are Taking Over
I was impressed with the special effects relating to the Autobots. The first two have actually impressed me as well, and while this one wasn’t all that different, the machines looked more polished, the transformations seemed more streamlined, and the characters just seemed to mold together better. I do feel like they had WAY too much action in this film, though. There are too many scenes that feature the same repetitive fighting that we are used to.
They do introduce us to some new characters, but again nothing worth talking about. The focus is on the good guys here, and their battle for normalcy.
There are a couple of scenes that stood out. There are several fight scenes, but the one scene that sticks out in my mind is the final fight scene. There are several Autobots in this fight, but toward the end one of the robots begins to bleed… I didn’t know transformers could bleed. (Also, speaking of that… when a car turns into a robot the size of a building, where did the extra material come from? The cars are not that big. Not even the semi trailer.)
You’re Kidding… It’s in 3D?
Of course it’s in 3D. Nearly every movie that comes out anymore is in 3D. The new Smurfs movie is in 3D for goodness sake. But I will admit, if I liked anything about this movie, it was that… the 3D effects. I have yet to be impressed with 3D, but they did it right in this film. It’s not overdone, never obnoxious, and simply fits the film in every sense of the way 3D could. You are never overcome by it, and the times where it appears they are going overboard, you are quickly brought back down to reality.
You won’t catch me saying that very often. The last movie that was even decent regarding 3D visual effects was Avatar. But I will admit, Transformers: Dark of the Moon pulled it off.
Sweet Home Chicago
Part of this film was shot in Washington, DC. I actually learned, just today, that my good friend Steve Hill was an extra in one of the scenes shot in DC. Unless his name is in the credits, I am not sure I can believe him… but how cool is that? I wonder if he got paid…
The other half of the movie was shot in Chicago. I actually got the chance to see them film some of this. We were in Chicago during their last day of shooting, actually. Toward the end of the movie they were literally destroying the streets of Chicago, and I kept saying to myself, “I have been there… I know where that is… I have eaten there!” It was cool to relate to the film having been in the same city while they filmed part of it.
I could spend all day talking about the movie, but let’s wrap this up… the movie is decent at best. I loved the first one. I liked the second one. And I wouldn’t pay to see this one… (I got the ticket at The Beer Sellar as a pint promotion they were running last Monday night. If you bought a pint of beer – $3 on Monday nights – you got a free ticket to see the movie.)
If you have seen the first two, go see it. But if you are just looking for something to do this weekend, skip it. There are plenty of other good movies on the big screen that you will enjoy more than this. Plus, the movie is 2.5 hours long. Honestly, they could have made it 1.5 hours and told the same story just as well. Our time is precious, and I would rather read or write than watch another Autobot fight scene.
Again, I have to give a shout out to my good friend Brad Rockwood for giving me this new rating system… Transformers: Dark of the Moon gets 2/5 kernels. I’ll see you at the box office soon!
Have you seen the first two? Did you see the new one? What did you think?