Transformers: Dark of the Moon

157 minutes. That's how long this movie runs.

157 minutes. That's over two and a half hours of painfully unfunny jokes, obvious male chauvinism and gratuitous gore. 9420 seconds of distasteful, shallow characters. I would gladly submit myself to science in order to wipe away the memory of this movie from my head.

There are so many things wrong with it that I can't begin to imagine how it was released in this state. Story-wise, it feels like something that comes before the first draft of a script; as if there was a transcriptionist in the room when the director had his first mind fart who wrote it down verbatim. There are numerous subplots that are completely unnecessary, more than half a dozen extraneous characters that take up precious screen time, and scores of wasted minutes on inane little sequences that add nothing to the main plot. In fact, every single bit of human character involvement probably could have been cut out and this movie and it would have been better for it.

Frankly speaking, Sam Witwicky (played by the one-note Shia LaBeouf), is  a complete ass-hat. He spends the majority of the first act trying to convince people that he's somebody they should pay attention to. His credentials? That the President of the United States gave him a medal. Whoo. hoo.

Yes, Sam saved the Earth in the first Transformers movie, and again in the second one, but apparently he did nothing else with his life outside of being a "hero". What did he study in college? Did he undergo any military training? He wants to do something that matters, but he's done nothing to deserve a shot at the title. Maybe it's commentary on today's get-rich-quick culture of American Idol wannabes and Jersey Shore rejects. Or maybe it's a nod to the young slasher crowd who proclaim themselves "professionals" in everything they've ever tried out in their short lives. Then again, this is a movie by the same guys who put testicles on Devastator, so I don't think that's the case.

Instead of ├╝ber-babe Megan Fox (who apparently torpedoed her own career by bad mouthing Bay and the gang) we get Rosie Huntington-Whiteley playing Sam's new British girlfriend. Unlike James Cameron, whose Avatar at least starred strong women characters, Bay doesn't have the same respect for females. Carly is nothing but the damsel in distress, eye candy for all of the director's signature low angle shots that pan up his actresses leg and under their skirts. He doesn't even bother to disguise his sexism in this installment, editing a scene so that as evil human, Patrick Dempsey's voice over describing his cars' sensuous curves runs over a slow pan up Huntington-Whiteley's ass. Even Frances McDormand's character isn't spared as John Turturro's character tosses out lines that would get anyone in the real world slammed with a sexual harassment suit before they could utter another word.

It's amazing how Bay can attract the level of talent that he does. Aside from Turturro and McDormand, the film boasts other name actors like John Malkovich, Leonard Nimoy, and Hugo Weaving. Other characters from the first two films also return, including Sam's parents, Capt. William Lennox, and Sgt. Robert Epps. There's no real reason they're there as none of them really advance the plot at all. Bay even convinced the actual Buzz Aldrin to come in for a short (and banal) cameo. All those humans take up the lion's share of the screen time. The first two acts (about and hour and a half) are all about Sam whining about the government not handing him a job, or throwing petulant fits when his girlfriend smiles at her debonaire boss.

The robot characters don't come off all that better. Optimus Prime throws a hissy fit as well, giving the NSA the silent treatment like some spoiled child because she didn't tell them about the  downed Autobot shuttle on the moon with an injured comrade aboard. Sam gets two new sidekicks to replace Bumblebee and they're even more annoying than the Twins were. The rest of the Autobots don't even have enough screen time to warrant discussion. You heard the Wreckers where here, right? They don't do anything. They show up once or twice during the final battle and are referred to in way of exposition, but they don't play a real role. Topspin (the blue one) doesn't even have lines.

The worst thing about the movie for me was the editing and the sound design. I've seen amateur videos that have been edited better than this thing. Characters pop in and out of the story at odd moments, with no explanation of how they got there. Voices run on over frames of other characters. Transitions are all over the place, giving you no real sense of how much time has passed.

The first sequence is a massive info dump explaining how the moon landing was a huge cover up of a mission to reconnoiter an alien sighting. The thing zips by like it's on speed, with no notion of rising action at all. We're treated to a montage of news reel footage and slow dramatic pans with that overwrought music that has been part of the Bay experience since The Rock. Then we're on the moon with Apollo 11 as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin investigate the crashed Autobot shuttle.

And then we cut to an upskirt of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. She's wearing black panties.


The last hour of the film is dedicated to the battle for Chicago after the Decepticons attack. While there's a lot of eye candy here, it doesn't have any heart at all, and even less brains. I'm pretty sure they killed Shockwave twice, and Bumblebee seems to have the ability to teleport himself right into Decepticon custody. The scene of Prime jetting down a street (which felt so thrilling in the trailer), raining down all kinds of whup-ass comes toward the end, as does that image of the building being eaten by the robot sandworm. By that time I was so fed-up with the whole affair that I wanted to walk out.

I really don't know how they went so wrong here. It should have been a cut and dried alien invasion project, only with huge hulking robots. Bay had so many templates available to him, the most recent of which was Battlefield: Los Angeles. Decepticons discover/build Spacebridge, Decepticons warp in reinforcements, Decepticons attack, Autobots run guerrilla war against Decepticons and win in the end. I'd have loved to see THAT movie.

I'll admit that my opinion may be considered suspect. I am, after all, a long time fan of the Transformers franchise, having followed the original cartoon series religiously as a kid. However, I've come to learn to separate movie continuity from other mediums, so don't think I'm judging this on how it compares to the various animated series, the comics, or the Hasbro toys.

I simply despise it because it's an awful, awful film.

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