Transformers 3 Movie Review: Part I
A candid and comprehensive Transformers 3 – Dark of the Moon movie assessment.
Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon finally arrived with a bit of pomp and promise, with scintillating graphics of the Transformers’ Homeworld of Cybertron as seen on 123movies. Robots swooped through an (atmosphere?), chased by MIRV (multiple independently-targetable warhead) look-alikes in their fusion wakes – basically, a worthy scene to precisely the kinds of weapons a human mind might imagine alien robots would wield. Somewhat prophetically, with the explosion of the Autobot’s Ship of Hope, the movie, itself, would only go downhill from there. Compiled here are a few real-time (for the most part) musings jotted down on the ride home directly after an evening viewing of Transformers 3.
Was it mere coincidence that the plot of the Transformers revolved so strongly around the currently-declining Space Program? Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but I have a friend who wonders about these things, considering that the decommissioning of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has been dominating NASA news for the past year now. Perhaps an injection into the public consciousness that we need to “ touch the face of god ” every once in awhile? (As a small point, it was very tastefully done how the story underlying Transformers didn’t undermine the human accomplishment of building a space vessel that could take man safely 300,000 miles away and bring him back. It could easily have maintained that humanity used Transformers technology to do so).
The infusion of the nuclear calamity that was Chernobyl into the film sort of broke an old rule in movies that hijack historical occurrences for their cinematic legs: you’re only allowed one. If you use two, then that means you can’t stand on your own. It was hard to figure Chernobyl into the whole thing, frankly – but maybe not for the average moviegoer who has merely a tangential experience with its historical significance. It just didn’t fit, as any odd place could have been used, and it seemed like the movie was trying to pole-vault off the name, itself. Of course, it’s always good to see ‘ole Optimus Prime, and this was the scene in which he made his appearance. In spectacular fashion, no less. Gone was the famous semi-trailer, and in its place, some kind of weapons depot, with that glowing bastard sword that rends Cybertronian metal so easily.
The appearance of the great Prime was quickly overshadowed by yet another (disturbingly inevitable) instance of Bay humor in the “Latin-meltdown-hoochie-mama-outfit” scene. But maybe the rest of us are just too sensitive, right? Sigh. And the cameo by the Hangover guy was funny in the beginning, but quickly became over-the-top (a running theme in Bay’s recent movies, it seems), which is what usually happens when comedy-writers run out of ideas. Then, you can just have a conservative character shake his booty or conjure up a borderline racist stereotype as filler for your lack of comedic imagination. In fairness, there may (or may not) be a lot slack thrown Bay’s way; I read a review that lamented the casting of John Turturro’s (the former Sector-7 bigwig) assistant as an “unfortunately stereotypical gay assistant”. Well, what else can he do? At some point, everything is probably capable of offending someone – how do you think some Arabs might feel about consistently being the bad guys in movies, after all – but it is difficult to cut the director many breaks after the blatant fiascoes that went by the names of Skids and Mudflaps in Transformers 2. It may be unfair; but then, he may deserve it .
With all this said, there were a handful of genuinely funny moments, showing that the writers do have at least some conception of humor – for example, Turturro’s character saying “Dos Vidanya” as a greeting (Dos Vidanya means goodbye in Russian), or Sam’s mother in one or two lines. 15 seconds out of 30 minutes of attempted humor is hardly a success, however; but perhaps we should be thankful there weren’t any humping robots this time around…
Transformers 3 Movie Review: Part 2
The second – and last – part of the Transformers 3 Dark of the Moon movie assessment.
Even as I watched Transformers 3, I couldn’t figure out why the same story in any other movie would be entirely coherent; but in Bay’s movie, with a background of unceasing machinery and generous loads of unsuccessful levity, it just seemed superfluous. Get to the robots.
As the film progressed, it was a mite confusing why Sentinel Prime, if he had already betrayed the Autobots, didn’t accept the offered Autobot Matrix of Leadership from Optimus. It is, after all, an instrument of great power, and no matter what else he has, it would make him even stronger. The formerly great Autobot’s humility was a bit at odds with his betrayal, if you ask me.
As a somewhat non-movie-specific personal quirk of mine, I noticed another decidedly disturbing trend in big-budget movies – humans are dying with reckless abandon these days! Call me old-fashioned, but I remember hero movies where saving just one random gal was worth an entire operation. I’m from the Superman/Action Comics Age, where the Man of Steel would move a mountain to save a child. Today, even Autobots kill humans through reckless fighting techniques, like when Ironhide pointlessly kicked a Decepticon he’d already defeated through a populated building. It’s almost as if the scale of operations have gotten so big, an armful of mankind just isn’t considered “enough at stake” to go fighting for. I estimate that between freeway chases and landing giant hovercraft and nigh-indestructible tentacles wrapping around (former) skyscrapers, over 100,000 people met their Maker in Transformers 3. That’s a nuclear bomb’s worth of immediate casualties! But it is a small observation for the world of fantasy; maybe it has greater implications for society at large, but I’m hardly the one to argue that.
Observation: Do the Primes get stronger and more powerful with age? Whereas Optimus Prime finds Megatron a tough out, Sentinel Prime often tossed him around in Dark of the Moon (although perhaps Megatron was in a weakened state). It would seem then, that an older Prime is a better Prime – as far as fighting is concerned, at least – Optimus needed Megatron’s intervention to defeat Sentinel. And then in typical Autobot gratitude, he dispatched with Megatron (who’s face still hadn’t fully recovered from their last battle) once and for all.
Once again, there seemed too many robots to give proper amounts of time, despite the drastic reduction in numbers from Revenge of the Fallen to Dark of the Moon. Ironhide’s death was treated with less fanfare than one of the many hapless humans killed by a shell-casing from a Decepticon’s (or Autobot’s!) refrigerator-sized bullet. Shockwave was highly touted in the trailers as the end-all-be-all of Decepticons, yet all of his too-few entrances seemed a rushed and haphazard. He spent 90% of Dark of the Moon presumably underground with his Cybertronian Earthworm. He should’ve at least had as much time onscreen as Sam’s love interest, right?!
Ultimately, despite the box office numbers, Transformers 3 was decidedly not a good movie. It was far too long for what it offered, which, if there hadn’t been loads of money to rake in from making it into a film, would have been better suited to a slightly-longer-than-average commercial. Or a series of them. Instead of being the worst movie of the year, it could’ve been the best commercial ever.