Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Directed by Michael Bay, written by Ehren Kruger, starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and John Turturro - Rated PG-13

Stuff blows up and giant robots kill each other, just enjoy it.

The fighting robots are back this summer and once again, a whole lot of stuff gets blown up as they duke it out for Earth’s future. Transformers: Dark of the Moon marks the third film in the series and while it doesn’t measure up to the first film, it is an improvement over the second (a film that I enjoyed a bit more than most critics). Dark of the Moon may run a bit long (it clocks in at a whopping 157 minutes) but it still provides plenty of bang for your buck this summer.

Dark of the Moon picks up a few years after the second film and most everyone has moved on to bigger and better things except Sam (Shia LaBeouf) who can’t land a job and isn’t allowed to help out his robot buddies. But of course he can’t stay out of the mix for long and eventually everyone comes together again to attempt to save the world. That’s a plain description of the plot, and there is quite a bit going on in this movie, but everyone is really showing up for the action, not the story.

The action of the previous film was problematic at times because it was hard to tell just what was going on most of the time. That problem has been fixed for the most part. While parts of the film just have too much going on, you can at least tell who is winning each fight this time around. Most importantly, though, this is a big budget film and all the money is right there on the screen. There are some great action set pieces and the last forty-five minutes of the movie is full of crazy, ridiculous action. Director Michael Bay is on his action game with this one. The 3D was pretty decent as well. This is a movie that makes the IMAX 3D ticket worth the price. But the film is also fine in 2D.

The film also tries to provide a few laughs and succeeds a few times, though most of it ends up being a bit on the childish side, most notably the small robots. The rest of the laughs are provided by the goofy side characters. John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Francis McDormand, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong, and John Malkovich all ham it up to bring a few laughs. It’s all about your personal taste, but I found Tudyk and Malkovich to be the funniest. And Sam’s parents were thankfully toned down in this movie after their ridiculous outing in the last film.

Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson both show up again, but LaBeouf is the only actor who gets a character to work with. No big deal, a large cast means more one note characters, but Sam has become a whiny jerk this time around. He whined a bit in the first two films, but it was okay since he was young and still a student. This time he’s supposed to be a full-fledged adult and he just complains constantly, blaming everyone but himself for his troubles. He was more annoying than funny. Some of his freak-outs are humorous, though.

The part of the cast that is getting the most attention in the press is Rosie Huntington-Whitely, a.k.a. Megan Fox’s replacement. It’s understandable that the filmmakers would crack a joke or two about Fox’s departure, but they go into overkill showing off their new hot girl. Also, the addition of Patrick Dempsey in a side plot with the replacement is just strange.

Dark of the Moon is very entertaining but the length of it could be a major issue for some, especially if you’re watching it in 3D. Your eyes might start to feel the strain after an hour and a half or so. The film could easily drop thirty non-action minutes. Some of the new love interest stuff could go and maybe a few of the comedic roles could have been trimmed down a bit.
A movie that overstays its welcome isn’t a bad movie, however, and Dark of the Moon should please most viewers. It can be a bit goofy and everything but there is plenty of awesome action and the visual effects are top notch. You get your money’s worth and that’s about the best thing a summer movie can do.

Random Thoughts (SPOILERS)

Maybe it's just because I'm a fan of his work in "Eastbound & Down," but I thought Andrew Daly's short scenes were great. His reaction to Ken Jeong's death was hilarious.
Speaking of which, Ken Jeong dies! After getting my hopes up in The Hangover Part II, this is the film that delivers the goods. He wasn't all that bad in the film, but I am seriously suffering from Jeong overload at this point and it was nice to see him take an early exit.

Nice to see Chicago get destroyed for a change. Not nice, necessarily, but I'm tired of watching New York, L.A., and D.C. get blown up.

The little robots taking down the giant ship reminded me of Anakin at the end of Star Wars: Episode I. By the way, did they die? The ship didn't blow up or anything so they may have survived but it is never shown.

Anyone else think Optimus was a dick for killing Megatron after Megatron had just saved him? The guy was offering a truce and Optimus rips his head off. Now that's diplomacy.

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