Movie Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D

Admittedly, I do not fit the demographic that Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D is aiming for. I’m not a 14-17 year old boy and while I did grow up watching the Transformers cartoon series, it carries far less nostalgic value for me than it does for my younger brother (or my husband, who are 32 and 33, respectively). I should also mention – just so you know where I stand – I didn’t care much for the first Transformers film and my feelings for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen range somewhere between complete indifference to outright hostility.

Having said that, it will not surprise you to learn that I did not enjoy the third installment of the Hasbro Toy-based, Michael Bay-directed film franchise.

In a nutshell, I found T:DotM 3D to be a bloated, boring, over-long – albeit glossy – mess. A bombardment of visual spectacle so slick, the experience of watching it felt like enduring a 2 and a half hour commercial for cars, lipgloss and C4. The film seems to operate on just two, broad levels –  vacillating between fatigue-inducing (and often unnecessary) exposition and balls-out, action sequences (which are occasionally peppered with ramped down slow-mo and melodramatic musical accompaniment) that are so relentless, they actually caused my brain to shut down from sensory overload. I’m not sure how you go about making something thrilling – like say,  a battle between an alien race of robots – and render it dull, but there I was, bored and praying for a merciful end.

But what was the film about, you may be asking? I will do my best to break it down, but it won’t be easy. T:DotM 3D begins with a robot battle between the Decepticons and Autobots – during which a robot-driven ship crashes on the Earth’s moon. Apparently this happened in 1961, because President Kennedy is informed of this crash by NASA and he wants to haul ass to the moon post haste before the Soviets are able to reach it and get their hands on the alien technology…or something. This lengthy set up is followed by a re-enactment of the 1969, Apollo 11 Lunar Landing – replete with Forest Gump-ian special effects featuring archival footage of Presidents Kennedy and Nixon – to establish a fictional explanation for the historical event.

We are soon introduced to Sam Witwicky’s new girlfriend’s ass new girlfriend, Carly ( Not Megan Fox Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and re-acquainted with Sam himself (played by Shia LaBeouf) – an unemployed, college graduate with a strong sense of self-entitlement and an inexplicable gift for wooing ridiculously hot women. Sam finds the prospect of job-hunting to be a lackluster endeavor – he’s a hero, having saved the world (THE WORLD!) twice now – though he soldiers on to earn the respect of Carly, who is extremely gainfully employed as the curator for Dr. Dreamy’s (Patrick Dempsey) car collection.

Sam Witwicky’s parents show up for no real reason while Sam suffers through countless job interviews for work which is beneath a hero such as himself, before landing a position as John Malkovich’s (John Malkovich) mail-runner. During his brief employ, Sam is approached by fellow employee Mr. Wang (Ken Jeong) who recognizes him (he’s a HERO!) and attempts to warn him – in a strangely violent way, about something or other, evil robots probably – in the men’s restroom, resulting in a knee-slapping scene which leaves Mr. Wang sweaty, pants-less and ruffled, appearing to have engaged in a passionate tryst with Mr. Witwicky because Michael Bay has yet to meet a stereotype or homophobic joke that he didn’t find hilarious.

And here is where I can no longer break things down in a sensible way. The rest of the film unfolds in a series of car chases and fight scenes and clandestine military meetings. This is followed by robot fights and running and explosions and fire and slo-mo and robots having heart-to-hearts about the survival of their race. We are also treated to a round of romantic misunderstandings and parental advice/humor – followed by even more running, fighting, ill-conceived rescue missions, the intricacies of alien robot politics and subsequent betrayal, white outfits, more explosions, architectural damage and swelling, orchestral music set to images of burning things. It goes on and on like this and I swear to god, I just saw the thing last night and I don’t remember what it was actually about.

The newest Transformers film does feature some impressive CGI, but the onslaught of special effects and extravagant action sequences nullifies their potency – which sort of explains how I feel about the entire film. Anything enjoyable that could be mined from viewing it gets smothered by it’s own excess – it was too much – and too much of anything (whether good or bad) is just bad.

{I did make a number of observations – which are probably interesting only to me – that you can read here:

– Robots are machines and as such have no use for capes.

– They also don’t need beards or any other simulacrum of facial hair.

– In Michael Bay’s films, there are only two kinds of women:  pin-ups or punchlines.

– Carly’s penchant  for wearing a shit-ton of make up is rivaled only by her love for white clothing. Her commitment to wearing white is so steadfast and true that even after being kidnapped, she still has a stash of like, three more white outfits to change into – none of which are ever soiled, even during epic robot battles.

by Jane Almirall

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