Movie Review: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Written by Josh Litman July 08, 2011

Was Transformers: Dark of the Moon any good? Well, its visual effects were a 10/10, that’s for sure. If only films relied solely on those…

Who needs character development when cities go boom?

The first couple Transformers movies didn’t quite do it for me. The first one showed a lot of promise, but was held back by some stupid characters/plot points and choppy editing. The second one had slightly tighter editing (action scene-wise), but was a turd in every other way — e.g., characters, story (WHAT STORY???).

To DOTM‘s credit, there’s actually a semblance of a story this time around (as opposed to Revenge of the Fallen). The evil Decepticons, led by a decrepit Megatron (Hugo Weaving), make a comeback from their beat-down in the previous film with a bigger, badder plan that involves more than simply annihilating the Autobots. To tell you more might spoil the one ‘twist’ this film has going for it, so I’ll leave it at that.

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Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky doing a little dance.

The acting is also bearable – at least most of the time. Shia LaBeouf, as Sam Witwicky, continues to do his best with cliché dialogue, and the new chick (played by supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) is better than Megan Fox – even if her primary function is to pout and look sexy while surrounded by sh*t blowing up in slow-mo. Still, not bad for a first-time actress.

At least the bots in this film are as cool as ever, with Optimus (Peter Cullen) and Sentinel (Leonard Nimoy) especially chewing up the scenery whenever they’re on screen. I found Nimoy, in particular, to be a real treat as Sentinel Prime.

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Sentinel Prime.

Director Michael Bay seems to have finally realized that given the complicated look of the bots, the editing needed to be less choppy and the shots needed to be slowed down to actually make out who’s who. Well, third time’s the charm I guess. If only Bay also realized that inserting random pop music into the background of key scenes effectively ruins them.

It can still be hard to identify most of the transformers, but not because of shoddy editing. It’s because they’re given very little screen-time. Sure, we see them fight and whatnot, but some real scenes with them as actual characters (you know, with emotion and stuff) would have gone a long way. Just sayin’.

Michael Bay: "F*ck logic... Screw their motivations... Just blow it up. Yeah, blow EVERYTHING up! In slow motion. And put Rosie in the foreground...yeah."

Finally, the last act of the film is packed solid with nonstop destructive action — you know, the kind Bay generally excels at. Except this time I think he and his crew really outdid themselves with the visual effects (the 3D was pretty effective, too). The scale of the action is ridiculous, seamlessly shifting between citywide devastation and individual characters caught in the chaos of it all. If only Bay would realize that snazzy special effects and balls-to-the-walls action only have any sort of impact when we truly care about the characters. Action needs context. Seriously, if you’re going to spend a gazillion dollars on effects, how hard is it to invest in a decent script? It’s just sad when you think about it. And a waste.

Visuals: 10/10
Story/characters: 3.5/10
Goofy humour: Stupid

My Rating: 7/10

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About Josh Litman

Josh Litman

Director/producer/writer/actor/editor/cinematographer/musician/neuroscientist… Josh prides himself on being simultaneously awesome and modest. In addition to We Eat Films, Josh also produces his own work (films, writing) under the banner of Action Potential Productions and has his own website, too, where his handiwork can be viewed: www.actionpp.com -- or www.joshlitman.com (if you prefer).

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