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Worth A Look: 7.69%
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Pretty Bad53.85%
Total Crap: 33.33%

4 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon
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by Erik Childress

"J.G. Ballard Would Love This Trilogy"
2 stars

If you round up all the trilogies or franchises out there for some kind of promotional or celebratory back-to-back marathon, the one that would earn the truest definition of the term "endurance" would be Michael Bay's Transformers. With the possible exception of the Saw series (which you can watch five of the seven in the same time it would take you to watch Bay's trilogy), none other challenges you to sit in your chair and take the repeated pummelings of soulless metal-on-metal carnage that actually ranks behind in the intolerable department to Bay's penchant for hapless comedy, homophobia and fetishizing those who did and didn't make it into his Victoria's Secret commercial. The director who has been referred in Hollywood to everything from the Devil to Hitler (a no-no that reportedly got Megan Fox and her bouncing titties bounced from part three) earns every bit of his scorn and does little to improve his image here. Some might be a bit more forgiving for the non-stop technical smorgasbord he uses to wrap things up in part three, but if someone shits in your mouth for the main course and then gives you a bowl of sorbet afterwards, you cannot walk away saying that was a good meal.

In a plot that will defy description, especially once you get to how easily it could have been established, the Autobots secret weapon crashed on our moon back in 1961. So John F. Kennedy launched the space program to beat the Russians to landing there, part of a gigantic NASA cover-up that also leads to an explanation of why we have never returned. In present day, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), despite having saved the world twice by his own admition, is jobless. But not homeless thanks to his new hottie, Carly (model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). She's got a great place in D.C. thanks to being a white house page or maybe a model or merely a place to warm Patrick Dempsey's johnson rod. He's into cars and offers Sam a job. And it seems we've already lost our place in the plot. Let's back up.

Sam has been job hunting and winds up in the employment of John Malkovich whose company has some connection to NASA. Ken Jeong, who seems to spend his summers now destroying all the good will he has built up on Community, also works there and recognizes Sam's connection to the "war." He's a nervous wreck thanks to all those attached to the cover-up losing their lives. Autobot leader Optimus Prime is unhappy with the government but suggests all will be fine if they can just reignite the Sentinel and his special weapon. Meanwhile, Sam gets involved with another pair of Coen Bros. refugees, Frances McDormand and John Turturro, to piece together the Decepticons' latest plan before the world in engulfed again in the battle between two factions of weaponized Rubik's Cubes brought to you by Hasbro.

As you can see, character names are not important in this venture. Though Bay has drudged up so many bit parts for actors that you occasionally forget that robots are even involved. At least the ones without the fine posterior that Sam is sleeping with. Yeah, she's a bad actress, people, but she sure knows how to make an exit out of a car. The machinations involved in setting up this epic battle might be the most excruciating material Bay has ever tried to execute. Pre-title sequence notwithstanding which establishes some actual worthwhile 3-D and a potentially intriguing movie concept, the next 90 minutes is like watching Tyler Perry try to drive a toaster through a car wash (to paraphrase another Apollo mission movie.) Would it have been so hard to simply establish the plot as NASA cover-up, Optimus restarting Sentinel, bad idea, Decepticons want to bring their much-larger planet to ours. Somewhere during the climax Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen are trying to say goodbye as Megatron approaches. But to get to the much-ballyhooed third act, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a painful comedic train wreck of flaunted jingoism and insulting anachronisms.

If a complete reinvention of the space race was not enough (even with Buzz Aldrin himself showing up to concur the true reasons for his mission), Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger also invoke the Chernobyl meltdown as the aftermath of the Russians messing with the technics of our otherworldly visitors. Want more? How about a shuttle explosion that recalls the Challenger disaster? Kinda makes you wonder if the building-collapsing mayhem of the climax was set in Chicago for the tax credits or someone actually got through to Bay that shooting in New York would have been in poor taste. I wonder how the three gay jokes in the film will play there this week.

Pay all the attention you want to people selling the nearly hour-long stop-and-start destruction of Chicago, but you are better off waiting to buy that ticket 100 minutes from the scheduled start time. (Chicago ticket buyers will notice at least two key Washington settings look like their hometown, and unless Wayne and Garth moved to D.C., Sam & Co. crashing into an I-88 Aurora sign makes no geographical sense.) That element is certainly more amusing than Ken Jeong's manic antics, Malkovich and Turturro over-salivating their line readers as if their paychecks were stuck to the roofs of their mouths, and two anti-comical appearances by Sam's parents (Kevin Dunn & Julie White), including one directly after the film's supposed major shift in tone. Bay doesn't understand that while we might not always need the most fleshed-out characters in a giant robot film, we do need ones that are engaging or just likable. You know, to provide a little balance of humanity to the proceedings. It's hard to do that when even your hero needs a time out. Shia's Sam is no longer just a hapless nerd who lucked into a stress-induced relationship with a hottie. He's now a spoiled child off his ritalin with an anger management problem that even gamma rays couldn't provide an outlet for.

95 minutes of torture then give way to the aforementioned Battle: Chicago, which in many ways is the best thing Bay has shot since the attack sequence in Pearl Harbor, another film with a lot of torture surrounding a 40-minute action set piece. While busy and nearly non-stop, there's a cleanness to his setups, a depth to the locations and even a couple bits of ingenuity. The survival of a collapsing skyscraper is a stellar bit of action filmmaking (even with the queasy 9/11 comparisons) and a bit where LaBeouf and returning special forces leader Josh Duhamel are yo-yo'ed around by a Decepticon is clever enough to give Bay a tip of the hat. He has even cut down on the number of anonymous metal concoctions punching another, but when he does he seems to have figured out how to make it work enough to at least notice where the punches connect.

While admittedly cool in spots for the kind of slick, FX extravaganza often built up in our minds but rarely delivered upon, the entire final act is still a gigantic "so what" to the entire enterprise. We don't care about anyone involved and actually wouldn't mind if a few of them met their ends. Aside from a handful of the Autobots and Decepticons, none can be picked out of a lineup. As a world or even just a country, maybe we are not worth saving if our defenses cannot even pickup a gigantic, underground drill somehow making its way from Chernobyl to the midwest of Chicago. Bay reaches new levels of shamelessness by not only foreshadowing the appearance (and eventual demeanor) of Leonard Nimoy with a Star Trek episode, but by getting him to actually recite word-for-word how "the needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few." A bold mantra for a director who has given so many so very little in quality filmmaking.

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originally posted: 06/29/11 01:23:33
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User Comments

8/28/12 Croweater888 2.5 hours long, felt twice that long. 2 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison Not great at all, but still better than the second one. 2 stars
1/28/12 Kathryn Martinez Okay for kids who don't expect much from the plot and only want lots of action! 3 stars
11/08/11 Chris. American war propaganda. Fucking bullshit, and it would never end. 1 stars
10/30/11 Meep An atrocious film, TF2 was far better despite that films excessive faults, Bay despicable 1 stars
10/19/11 Magic The best movie of the Transformers franchise. What a low bar that is. 2 stars
10/16/11 mr.mike Not bad , tho the climactic battle goes on for an eternity. 4 stars
10/10/11 ashley rexrode i thought it was great!!! alot of action, great story line!!!! 5 stars
9/11/11 Captain00Kirk Good 3D and action, fun for what it is. 4 stars
7/11/11 The Big D Comic-book style is one thing; this is just stupid. 1 stars
7/11/11 KingNeutron A bit long, and dont expect char development, but very enjoyable - the 3D is worth it! 4 stars
7/10/11 Derek People who made this movie should be sentenced to death. 1 stars
7/05/11 Darkstar Officially the first movie i've ever walked out of. 1 stars
7/02/11 Rhys Why do people pay money to see this S***? 1 stars
7/01/11 Bob Dog Almost as bad as TF2. 1 stars
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  28-Jun-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 30-Sep-2011


  DVD: 30-Sep-2011

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