MOVIE REVIEW: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (2011)

Flabbergasted

It got a 38% fresh rating Rotten Tomatoes, it probably cost more than the GDP of small countries, and it has been excoriated as epitomizing everything wrong with modern America.

So how was it? Considering where the bar was set, not awful.

The special effects remain dazzling at times, simply impossible to follow with the eyes at other times. The human interest is still occasionally painful to watch, and there are moments insanely over the top (Sam being straddled on a toilet by a crazed male executive pulling down his pants to deliver secret information strapped to his thigh). The final battle has some great moments, but its sheer length is deadening at times. Clearly, Michael Bay has never considered the concept of less sometimes being more. And yet, as awful as I was expecting it to be, it really wasn’t.

To explain, I found the first Transformers movie decent. It had a reasonable excuse for a plot and passable cause-and-effect logic. Then, I took the eldest male child to the second one and had a hideous headache by the time it was over. It seemed crazed to me, a stream-of-consciousness smashie-smashie fest not trying to make the slightest sense. So where is the third Transformers? Kind of in between. It’s not as clean as the first, but it’s actually trying to have a plot. The story even works at moments here or there. Shorten it by half an hour and I might have even been outright positive on the experience.

Spoilers Ahead…

The story in a nutshell: the moon race in the 1960s was prompted by detection of an Autobot ship crashing on the moon. It was helmed by Sentinel Prime, who was carrying a weapon that would have changed the course of the war on Cybertron. When Optimus Prime learns of this, he goes to the moon, retrieves Sentinel Prime and revives him. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky’s life on screen is very annoying up until his search for a job crosses paths with a conspiracy of humans assisting the Decepticons. The big secret revealed is that Sentinel Prime had betrayed the Autobots during the original Cybertron War. He was in league with Megatron to rebuild their home world. So it’s all-out invasion now.

See? There’s your improvement. I couldn’t have written a paragraph that coherent trying to describe Transformers 2. At least not without it inducing some kind of seizure.

The last hour is a pitched battle between the Autobots and Decepticons in Chicago while Sentinel Prime tries to use his weapon to transport the husk Cybertron to our solar system. Six billion slave humans will then rebuild it. I didn’t see the contractual specifics, but I believe our medical benefits were pretty bad. The visual highlight is people on a collapsing skyscraper sliding down the exterior glass windows to escape. Optimus Prime is pretty bad ass, too, more than he was in the first movie. It’s overly long but watchable. One great gag line, too, which comes courtesy of Leonard Nimoy voicing Sentinel Prime.

WILL CONSERVATIVES LIKE THIS MOVIE?

Freedom-loving robots and American soldiers facing off against totalitarian robots who want to install a Cybertronian regulatory state. I can’t imagine why not.

Tags: