Anthony's Film Review

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Michael Bay delivers more of the same popcorn movie with action-packed eye candy...

Now that we have three live-action Transformers movies from producer/director Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg, it's about time that I describe Bay's Transformers formula. Very much like the formula for the James Bond movies, the Transformers formula includes a few core ingredients: giant fighting robots, super high-octane action, more gunfire and explosions than the average action movie, and very detailed special effects, mixed with human characters in a serious plotline as well as in a set of comical scenes featuring juvenile humor, awkward out-of-place content, and overly sexualized young women. Some people might not like this formula for various reasons. Maybe the comical scenes don't belong in a Transformers movie, or perhaps the robot action is just too much. For me, I know that the purpose of this movie is to give us some eye candy. As long as the action is the centerpiece and the comical stuff is limited to just the first third of the movie (yeah, I'm quite a patient moviegoer), I'm fine with it.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon has a rather unexpected but interesting type of opening. It combines current fictional footage and actual historical footage, because the landing of Apollo 11 on the Earth's moon in 1969 is, in this story, a coverup for the real objective: investigate a massive extraterrestrial metal object that crashed on the dark side of the moon. Yes, there are actually two actors portraying astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they make the famous first lunar steps before exploring the mysterious object from outer space. As the Autobot leader Optimus Prime (voice again by Peter Cullen from the previous Transformers movies plus the original cartoon) hints in the movie's prologue, the object contains technology that would've helped the Autobots defeat the evil Decepticons on their home planet of Cybertron.

Fast forward to the present day. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is now out of college, is looking for a job in Washington, D.C., and has a new girlfriend named Carly (played by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who replaces Megan Fox). Life goes on as usual until Sam comes across information pointing to a possible coverup with the Apollo 11 mission. He is thrust back into action, pulling Carly into the mess and also meeting up once again with a conspiracy theorist named Simmons (John Turturro), who first appeared in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Also appearing are two actors I never expected to see in a Transformers movie: Patrick Dempsey as a potential romantic rival for Sam and Frances McDormand as a government intelligence director. (Believe it or not, there are also brief cameos by the real Buzz Aldrin as well as Bill O'Reilly of The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News.)

As for the Transformers themselves, many of the familiar Autobots are back, including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Ironhide. There is one new Autobot in the form of Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), the previous leader of the Autobots who awakens after a long slumber. Meanwhile, the Decepticons have a couple of new baddies, most notably a giant serpent-like robot with numerous blades and a bird-like Decepticon that can disguise itself as various ordinary electronic objects.

As you may expect, the movie is two and a half hours of fun and excitement. Ignoring the non-action human scenes that can be distracting (but again, I'm forgiving), the plot takes the characters and action from Washington, D.C. to Chicago. Not surprisingly, both cities experience plenty of destruction thanks to the special effects crew who make the realistic illusion possible. There's no limit to what can be destroyed by the Autobots and Decepticons duking it out. Even the Lincoln Memorial isn't immune, as one Decepticon desecrates this American landmark by blasting the statue of Abraham Lincoln to pieces.

So how would I compare Transformers: Dark of the Moon with the first live-action Transformers movie or the sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Well, I would rate it close to the first one, which had plenty of action without being so over-the-top. It's definitely not like the second movie where the Transformers formula came in a really, REALLY high dose. Amazingly, Transformers: Dark of the Moon seemed to move quickly and even have a bit less action than the first Transformers despite the long running time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie.

With that, here's my last thought. I assume that Michael Bay will work on a fourth Transformers movie. Given that Los Angeles, Egypt, and Chicago have become battle zones in the series thus far, what place in the world is next? Then again, who cares? It's all about the eye candy anyway, regardless of where on Earth it's at.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Transformers: Dark of the Moon, visit the Internet Movie Database.

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