Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Stars - Shia LaBeouf
          Josh Duhamel
          John Turturro
Directed by: Michael Bay
Summary: The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets. (via imdb). 
Oh, Michael Bay. You do know how to make action sequences even cooler. Granted, the fact that it's giant robots fighting and destroying a well known American city is half the battle (Go Joe!). The failings of this film are consistent with just about any Bay film. They are all shot really well and feature jaw-dropping, pulse-pounding, eye-popping visual effects and death-defying action, but the plot, story consistency and logic are largely ignored in favor of pushing the envelope. Sometimes this works out ok and the points are so minor you're willing to suspend your doubts and just enjoy the ride. Like in The Rock, for instance. There's a lot of logical thinking you have to be willing to set aside for it to work, but the rest of the movie is good enough to make that happen. 
That's why Transformers 2 was such an abysmal failure. Bay had to ask too much of the viewer's cooperation and tried to inject too much crude and juvenile humor into a movie that really didn't need it. Give the people what they want, try not to screw with their childhood memories too much, and craft the movie around the action sequences. Revenge of the Fallen did none of those things. The first was enjoyable, but the second was like getting a footful of kick in the nards. 
I was highly reluctant to get my hopes up for this one, but then the trailer came out, and then, I read in multiple places that Bay had issued a mea culpa for number 2, so I decided to give it a chance, but with my eyes wide open and expectations lowered.
I will say that the action was phenomenal, when it was present, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is a slight improvement over the lifelessness that defines the acting style of Megan Fox. The plot remains just a loose construct to build high-impact set pieces around, and often drags in places. The script also has highly regarded actors vamping in silly roles (I'm looking at you Malkovich, you too Turturro) that seem out of place, unnecessary, and perhaps, most egregious, unfunny. The film has dark moments, yes, but they don't need the sexually charged jokes thrown in at seemingly unneeded times. And let's remember, although the target audience might nominally be men of my age, there are children watching these movies to. Which, makes the introduction of Huntington-Whiteley's character in a close-up view of her undies ascending the stairs, even more inappropriate. 
And let me address another nit-picky but horrendously distracting point. Since these are members of an alien race, why do they need accents? The rough brogue spoken by two new Autobots and the jamaican lilt to some of the Decepticons is so jarring and out of place that it really pulls you out of the narrative as you scratch your head and wonder how the Irish dialect made it to Cybertron. WTF? Really? How about just having them speak in a normal voice? And, why do the black SUV Decepticons have robot dreadlocks? Really? Did we learn nothing from the ebonics debacle of the last film Mr. Bay? Ugh.
All in all, there is about an hour and a half of a solid, action-driven spectacle that wows the audience and leaves you satisfied in the end. Unfortunately, the movie is two and a half hours long. Thankfully, that left time for the multiple potty breaks for my kids without losing any salient plot points (not that there were any). My boys, ages 6 and 10, were happy and give the movie two excited, let's buy it on DVD thumbs up. I give it a passing grade and am thankful to not feel as betrayed as last time. 
Now we just have to wait for the inevitable reboot in five years.

PS - speaking of reboots... I had heard that the teaser trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man was supposed to be attached to this, and was more than a little disappointed that they didn't show it.