Tuesday 5 July 2011

Movie Review - Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Despite its success at the box office, Michael Bay's Transformers film franchise has failed to impress the majority of film critics. The original received heavily mixed reviews, whilst the sequel was universally panned and is generally regarded as one of the worst films of 2009 (so much so that even Bay himself apologized for its outcome). Can this third and final installment redeem the series? I wish I could say yes, but sadly, that is not the case.

The plot revolves around Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) who after the events of the previous film has settled down with his new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) as he attempts to find a career. However, he is soon pulled back into the conflicts of the Autobots and Decepticons as a Cybertronian spacecraft which crash landed on the Moon in 1961 is brought back to Earth. What follows is a catastrophic invasion as the Decepticons aim to enslave all of humanity to rebuild their once glorious planet, Cybertron. By the way, the ending sucks. Hard.

Visually, this movie is pretty stunning. The Transformers look great, and some of the high octane set pieces in the climax are really fun to watch, and do indeed benefit from that extra depth that 3D provides. It's not all perfect though; some of the camerawork during the action scenes is incomprehensibly clumsy, making some of the battles seem very claustrophobic, and the designs for several of the Transformers are obscenely stupid (yeah, all the Decepticons look the same as usual). The soundtrack wasn't really memorable either; in fact, there was only one track near the end that I remembered and liked, the rest was just drowned by screaming and explosions.

The story, while an improvement over that of the previous film's, is still crudely told, and despite an interesting plot twist, it's incredibly cheesy and dull. The acting is sub par as well; I have no issue with Shia LaBeouf unlike a lot of people, but my god, Huntington is a terrible actress, and to be honest, she fills in a role that was best left excused. The characterization is a lot better than that of Mikaela which is a plus, but Huntington's performance lacks any passion or interest. What drags down this borefest even further is the absurd characters that are introduced in some scenes; they're not funny, they're annoying and serve no purpose to the story. Admittedly, the "dorky comedy" has been toned down slightly, but there's still a fair bit of stupidity, and it's even more insulting when it's integrated in really out of place scenarios.

Most people who saw Revenge of the Fallen will agree when I say it was far too long, and that same fault carries over into this film (HOW COULD YOU NOT LEARN FROM THAT BAY). It has a run time of around 155 minutes and takes great pleasure in wasting a good portion of this to ensure you're bored throughout. This is especially noticeable in the opening hour or so, which is plagued by a ridiculous level of daft humour as well as the fact that it focuses more on the humans than the robots; seriously, when you see the poster of this film and actually pay to see it, do you want to see Sam's incessant whining, or Optimus beating down some metal bad guys?

I really wanted to like this film; the trailer made it look awesome, and I just couldn't see how Bay could make it as terrible as Revenge of the Fallen after apologizing for making that film. But alas; he has managed to do just that. My disappointment and hatred for Dark of the Moon has only increased when writing this review. Despite nice effects and good use of 3D, it falls short due to Bay's typical inability to produce something of substance. The childish sense of humour and tedious length make this more of an ordeal than entertainment, and I seriously cannot recommend it to anyone, especially if you already dislike the film franchise as a whole.