Transformers: Cock-Eyed Optimus

We take apart this robot saga, except the 3D effects.
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Posted June 30, 2011 by KRISTIAN LIN in Film

Hey, I’m back! I know. I missed the second Transformers movie. Sorry, everyone. But I’m here now to write about the third installment, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, in which Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) helps the Autobots prevent the evil Decepticons from gaining access to a teleportation device that’ll allow them to enslave the Earth. Looks like I didn’t miss much. The series still sucks, though now it sucks in 3D, which is the only thing that doesn’t suck.


Strangely, director Michael Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger include a great many scenes involving people. It’s not like this movie’s audience has any interest in character arcs, and the humans succeed only in bringing things to a screeching standstill whenever they show up onscreen. Chief among these is Sam’s new love interest –– Megan Fox has been jettisoned for British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, which makes no difference whatsoever except in the relative merits of their asses. (And believe me, Bay photographs his new lead actress’ rear end from all angles so you can make the comparison. He’s so thoughtful that way.) In less sexy news, John Malkovich and Frances McDormand join up to give the movie a thin layer of cred in exchange for what I can only hope are gigantic paychecks. Their characters are a drag too. The movie would have been better — though not necessarily good — if all the characters had been robots.

Look, I’m not made of stone. I totally get the appeal of giant robots knocking holes in skyscrapers while beating the gearshifts out of each other. This movie lets you see that stuff in 3D, and Bay must have wet himself from happiness at the thought of working with this technology. He uses it for all it’s worth, most notably in the lengthy climactic battle set in downtown Chicago, with the action focused around Trump Tower. All the destruction looks good; when future film historians want to know how advanced special effects were in 2011, they’ll have to look this movie up. Most 3D films aren’t worth the heftier ticket prices, but 3D is pretty much the only meaningful way to experience this monstrosity. Dear God, did I just call this movie a meaningful experience? I guess I did.

Bay’s still a weak action director. He consistently fails to keep track of simple things like where characters are and what they’re doing. Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) and Bumblebee appear at different points during the climactic battle to save the day, and the movie never thinks to inform us of where they were before. We never get a precise handle on the dimensions and capabilities of Shockwave, a villainous robot with huge tentacles that can crush buildings. The showdown between Prime and the main villain (whose identity is supposed to be secret) is, like most other things in this movie, so badly edited that you can’t tell how either of them gets the upper hand. It doesn’t help that so many of the robots look alike.

Well, everyone can go gawk at this thing. I’ll have forgotten it completely by the time I write up next week’s film reviews. In the meantime, if I want a movie about talking vehicles, I’ll be across the hall of the multiplex watching Cars 2.

 

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Starring Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Directed by Michael Bay. Written by Ehren Kruger. Rated PG-13.


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