REVIEW: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Michael Bay, 2011)

Thank goodness, I guess, that this time there's a little more motivation on each side of the "Transformers" battle than "the colorful robots are good and the dark robots are bad so they're gonna fight". Still, two hours is a whole hell of a lot of time to spend on exposition aimed simply to excuse a closing act of mechanical action, most of which is difficult to make out.

At the same time, it might have all been fun had it behaved like it was actually based on a toy. As a kid I was never in to G.I. Joe (or Transformers for that matter) but I found "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra", an ostensibly "bad" movie, to be bunches of fun for being so unabashedly silly. There's a character named "Heavy Duty" for crying out loud. That sort of thing is amusing in "Joe" but in the "Transformers" flicks names such as "Shockwave" and "Ironhide" are just as laughable as all the humanizations bestowed upon who are supposed to be complete aliens seeing as we're meant to take it all so gosh darn seriously. And what's up with all the littler robots being either Beavis or Tazmanian Devil clones?

On another note, Bay's streak of destruction here borders on disrespectful. When Ray Harryhausen attacks the Golden Gate Bridge in "It Came from Beneath the Sea", it's horrifying because it shows the titular beastie to be so powerful one of America's most recognizable manmade landmarks is but its plaything. When Roland Emmerich blows up the White House in "Independence Day", it's mortifying in its symbolism that nothing is sacred or safe with our new alien overlords in town. With "Dark of the Moon", Bay's mentality on the demolishing of precious architecture and meaningful sculpture and the recreations of such national disasters as the Challenger explosion seems best summed up with the mere phrase, "it's cool". I've respected the man's knack for explosions at an arm's length for some time, the climax of "Bad Boys II" being of particular note in that regard, but "Dark of the Moon" lacks any kind of finesse. Frankly, I'm not too surprised, considering "Pearl Harbor".

If Bay got overexcited and crammed a self-compromising amount of excess into the minutely superior "Revenge of the Fallen" to the point that it fell apart entirely at the halfway mark, he has now repeated himself but simultaneously appeared to have grown bored with the whole thing, in turn standing to bore audiences (while subjecting them to a notably dreadful soundtrack, no less... and we thought Linkin Park was bad enough before). Again, at least this one has a plot and that's more than its predecessors can claim, but it's not a plot worth sitting through all its own garbage for (though we are treated to a fairly random "Holy Malkovich!!" moment that I hope soon becomes an internet forum meme).

Finally, on top of the giant debacle, the on-set 3D Bay has been going on so much about may well be the worst I've seen to date, beating out "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides". Not only is it useless, it detracts from the experience. If Paul W.S. Anderson somehow fails to wow me a second time with "The Three Musketeers" (unlikely, as its trailer has been the highlight of many a trip to the theater of late), I may have to call "Resident Evil: Afterlife" a fluke and move on from the 3D craze. Then, we do still have directors greater than Michael Bay or Rob Marshall to see from. In the meantime, I can hope I've heard Shia LaBeouf scream "Optimus!!" for the final time.

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