Friday, July 1, 2011
Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Movie Review
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong, and the voices of Bill Cullen, Hugo Weaving and Leonard Nimoy. Directed by Michael Bay.
This movie makes the best use of 3-D by any non-animated film since Avatar; by comparison, the other previews in 3-D before this movie looked dark and fuzzy. I appreciate that if they're going to price-gouge, Michael Bay at least makes sure it looks good, it looks worth it.
Having said that, I should say that the first one got the mildest of thumbs-up from me and I absolutely hated the second one. The third one is as good as the first one, however you want to define that, and maybe a little bit better.
I liked the opening sequence with the "real" reason for the space race in the 1960's. I giggled when they brought in the real Buzz Aldrin to confirm to Optimus Prime that, yes, the real reason we went to the moon was to explore the crashed spaceship just over the horizon from where Neil planted the flag. I was amused by the different levels of success they had at mixing real footage with CGI of three different presidents. (JFK looks like he walked out of The Polar Express).
There's also a sequence toward the end (you've seen pieces in the trailer) where a group of humans, including Sam (Shia LaBeouf), are trapped in a building that has been cut in half. Academy-Award nominations are in order for the visual effects teams.
Now I don't miss Megan Fox in the least, but they didn't do a better job in writing the character for her replacement, as embodied by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. She was somehow an embassy worker turned special assistant at a high-end car dealership...? Maybe she had a rich dad that hooked her up; I don't know. Her character never really made sense to me, but there's not much asked of the actress other than to be pretty.
The two ghetto-jive autobots from TF2 are gone, and the semi-apology for them is spreading the outrageous accents around. They range from Cheech Marin-ish to befuddled British. There's great voice work from Bill Cullen as Optimus Prime and Leonard Nimoy as Optimus's thought-to-be-dead mentor Sentinel Prime. Maybe part of it is the writing. The machines get some of the best lines.
The humor is more miss than hit. It's goofy to where I think either writer Ehren Kruger and director Michael Bay are trying to create what they think will make 13-year-olds laugh, or they have genuinely immature senses of humor. But Bay knows how to do action, even if there are patches where the movie feels like a trailer of itself.
Loved Alan Tudyk. Hated Ken Jeong. The movie's about twenty minutes too long. The climactic battle, I was ready for it to wrap up, and then Patrick Dempsey does something to make it last longer, and my first thought was, "No! How much longer is this movie going to be?"
So I appreciated that it didn't stink up the joint the way TF2 did.