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Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Dear Michael Bay: You may now consider yourself fully forgiven for Pearl Harbor.

I could also say that you are now also forgiven for the previous Transformers movie, but since you've made up for Pearl Harbor, saying as much would just be redundant.

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon... is at last THE Transformers live-action movie that I have dreamed of someday seeing on the big screen! Now I love like mad 2007's Transformers and I'm kinda starting to at last warm up to Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. But this third movie... I kid you not folks... is not only better than the previous sequel, it is by a wide degree better than the original film of the franchise!!


Michael Bay has been paying attention to his own handiwork. He has seen what is good and what is bad. And good googely moogely, the man has done something about it! If like me you cringed at the sight of Bumblebee "peeing", at jokes about masturbation, at jokes about marijuana, at Devastator's wrecking-ball testicles, at dogs humping each other, at those stoopid Autobidiot twins AKA "Car Car Binks"... your desperate prayers have been answered. We have, at last, a Transformers movie for real grown-ups as well as the kids!

The movie begins in 1961, with a flashback to some revisionist history starring among other people President Kennedy (is it just me or is Kennedy getting a lot of screentime this summer? Between this movie and X-Men: First Class, there's more JFK on film this season than there was in all of Oliver Stone's JFK). Earthbound instruments detect an alien vessel has crashed onto the Moon. We find that it was a Cybertronian ship piloted by Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) - the predecessor and mentor of Optimus Prime - and it contained technology that Sentinel believed could end the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. However, the United States and the Soviet Union have both spotted the downed ship... so it turns out that the entire race to the Moon of the Sixties was in order to be the first to reach the wreck. In one beautiful sequence we get to see the Apollo 11 mission landing near the site, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin going into the bowels of the ship before returning to their heroes' welcome on Earth.

Jump to the present day: Optimus (Peter Cullen) and his Autobots have been busy in the past few years since the battle with the Fallen in Egypt. When not hunting Decepticons, they're doing things like sneaking out of N.E.S.T. headquarters to raid rogue nuclear weapons sites in the Mid-East and elsewhere. But during a mission to the no-man's land of Chernobyl, Optimus and crew encounter Shockwave (voiced by Frank Welker, who also voices Soundwave) and his "pet" Driller (maybe the wickedest CGI-created monster yet depicted in film). The Autobots recover pieces of a Transformer vehicle and realize that the humans have been hiding a previous history with their race. Optimus's silent fuming about it results in the United States government coming clean about the true purpose of the Apollo program... and leads to a historic meeting between the Autobot leader and the real Buzz Aldrin, in what has to be one of the most geek-gasmic moments in pop culture history! Trust me: I was going completely bonkers at seeing the legendary astronaut being praised by Optimus Prime. THAT alone was worth seeing this movie in 3D (but more on that in a bit...).

Meanwhile we see what's become of Sam (Shia LaBeouf), now out of college and trying to hack it on his own in the real world. Mikaela has dumped him but no fret, 'cuz Sam has a far better girlfriend in Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, in a first dramatic role that already has many wondering "Megan who...?"). And Sam... well, he's trying to prove himself. The poor kid got a medal from President Obama for saving the world twice, but nobody but Carly and his parents really know about that and it's hard to find gainful employment when so much of his past few years is classified information. And yeah Sam's parents do show up but thankfully their presence is kept to a bare minimum (did I say that Bay learned from his mistakes, or what?). Sam does wind up with a menial job at a defense contractor... but on his first day he's accosted in the men's restroom (in a toilet stall actually) by a seemingly crazed co-worker who recognizes Sam from underground Internet footage. The guy gives Sam a package of information and soon thereafter is killed in his own office by the Decepticon spy Laserbeak.

And so it is that Sam is propelled once again into the eons-long civil war between the embattled brethren of the Transformer race.

I am not saying anything else about the plot. Because - brace yourself dear readers - THERE IS A PLOT IN TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON! And it's not only a brilliant one but it's easy to follow along! There are surprises out the wazoo in this movie. There is a nasty twist that you will not see coming. And it all winds down to more than an hour (out of a two hour and forty minutes running time... wow!) of the most retina-frying planet-pummeling toad-strangling ACTION that you have EVER seen in a movie. This is the highest grade of Bay-hem that you have ever been served with! If Transformers: Dark Of The Moon was street heroin it would be dang near lethal, it's so pure cut. And if you happen to live in Chicago, brace yourself: you are probably gonna cry some hard tears when you see what happens to your hometown. Yes, there is the human element in this movie, but director Michael Bay and screenplay scribe Ehren Kruger have made this Transformers movie about the TRANSFORMERS, gall-darnnit!!! You #@%&-ing want shape-shifting mechanical aliens kicking the slats out of each other? You're gonna #@%&-ing GET shape-shifting mechanical aliens kicking the slats out of each other, fool!!!

Especially if you choose to see this movie in 3D. And I'm gonna absolutely recommend that you do during this movie's theatrical run, because Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is bar none the most jaw-dropping use of 3D that I have ever seen. 3D has become so over-used and so horridly mis-used that by and large I avoid it. But I won't avoid it with this movie when I see it again (and I intend to). And the battle in Chicago in 3D is... horrifying. You've never seen utter and total devastation and widespread death like you have in this movie. Bay had held back on both the Autobots and Decepticons in previous movies but in this one, prepare to see a lot of familiar faces buy it. So many get killed that this movie coulda been called "Transformers: Nobody Gets Out Alive" and it wouldn't be entirely inappropriate.

Bay continues his trend of taking high-caliber actors and casting them as the most screwball characters. John Turturro is back as Simmons, wacked as ever, but somehow he's much more likable this time. Look for Alan Tudyk (who has previously been seen in the just-now finally becoming widely released Tucker & Dale vs. Evil) as Simmons' assistant Dutch. Frances McDormand (yah, Deputy Marge from Fargo) is a despicable government intelligence official. But by far the most wonky bit of such casting is John Malkovich as Bruce: Sam's boss. HOW does Bay come up with casting like this? It's almost like he's following the formula that worked in Airplane!... and it works well in a Transformers movie too!

But y'all are prolly more interested in the Transformers characters, right? Like I said earlier, "Step-and-Fetchitbots" are gone. Instead we get Wheelie (from the previous movie) and Brains (voiced by Reno Wilson) and they are much more fun to watch. We also get classic Autobots Wheeljack and Mirage, along with several others, including one who transforms into Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s #88 car (NASCAR fans should be flocking to this movie in droves this weekend). Soundwave is now on Earth and transforming into a sleek new BMW, but Laserbeak is again his minion just like in the classic continuity. And Hugo Weaving is back as Megatron: the leader of the Decepticons now having to hide half his face with a tarp because he's still damaged from the Egypt battle in the previous movie (a nice touch). But my favorite Decepticon in this movie has to be Shockwave: I'm a huge Shockwave fan, even though he's a total bastard of a Decepticon. And they completely got him right for this film. Color me astounded!

'Course, I couldn't do a review of a Transformers movie without saying something about the score, once again composed by Steve Jablonsky. Folks, maybe I'm a little biased, but Jablonsky's orchestral work in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is the best of the series by far. It is majestic, sweeping, and perfect for an epic that spans the world and spans worlds. I can not wait to have this score album once it become available!

Okay, I have just realized that I have now probably written more about this Transformers movie than I did for the previous two. So I'm gonna try to contain my excitement and keep it from getting the best of me, and simply say: Transformers: Dark Of The Moon not only wildly exceeded my expectations, it fulfilled everything that I had hoped and dreamed of seeing in a Transformers movie for most of my life. The faults and problems of the previous two movies? I can let them slide now, because this third film - this second SEQUEL, mind ya - was like what everything we had seen before, had been building up to. And I can now die happy knowing that if I haven't at last seen the perfect Transformers live-action movie, I've seen darn close to it!

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon gets my maddest most highest recommendation for a movie. Go see it! And even though this is Michael Bay's last time directing a Transformers movie, let's hope that this won't be the end of the series.

Where could it go from here? All I gotta say is: bring on Unicron! Maybe voiced by Morgan Freeman or James Earl Jones...


agoinsjr316 said...

I agree with most of what you said about this movie. I still really felt like this movie was... way... way... too... too... long.

Also, Megan who? Really? Really?!? LOL! Megan Fox's Mikeala was a chick who actually had a little backbone and toughness to her. She didn't cower completely, especially in the second film, and got physical in some of the scenes. Who can forget when she took charge and drove for an injured Bumblebee in the first film? Carly, while beautiful, was so weak. There isn't a strong bone in her almost perfect femine frame. Plus, I personally got a little tired of the obvious jabs to Megan Fox done by Michael Bay. I mean, did we really need an upskirt shot of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or that first image of her in full booty-ful glory? Yeah, Rosie was sexy but she also didn't replace Megan Fox.

But, for the most part, I agree wholehearted with you. It was a fun movie. The plot (which I won't say more about in risk of spoiling anything) was terrific. I loved it and the wrestling fan in me smiled because the big twist was Simple Booking 101 and works in cinema, wrestling, even in the NBA (see James, LeBron and "The Decision").

I'm certainly looking forward to a fourth film in the series... and, judging from reviews and receipts it's bring in, we'll have that fourth film soon.