[Good Stuff / Bad Stuff Review] Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

There are going to be a million reviews of Transformers: Dark of the Moon (DotM). I frankly am not up for a full review. It’s not that it was terrible and not worth to review or anything snarky like that, it’s simply that in this case I do not want to contribute to the ad nauseam with 800-1200 words.

It might also be that I’m lazy. The lazier can just read the bolded words and phrases below.


The Good Stuff

  • The 3D and CGI is impressive. I would put it at Avatar level. A nice contrast to Avatar is how the best 3D scenes of DotM are shot using familiar landscapes. Avatar struggled with selling its CGI as tactile when used to portray large areas like the background. The furries looked nice in Avatar and certain shots were awe-inspiring, but once the action moved to the heavily CGI jungles, one could not escape the feeling of watching an animation. Dark of the Moon is not like that. The Transformers are perfectly inserted into scenes. The action and destruction takes place in an urban landscape that we recognize. The difference of shooting such quality 3D in a mostly real environment is startling. The 3D pops more; our brains recognize the landscape and assimilate the action on the screen in a much faster, more familiar pace. Aces 3D. Brilliant.
  • The retconning of world history was kind of fun. JFK, the moon “landing,” Nixon, Obama, Chernobyl, the bankrupt space race, a real Buzz Aldrin cameo – all of these are changed in some way in an attempt to give authenticity to the story. It doesn’t work in that way, but it is fun – similar to Forest Gump.
  • John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich. The latter two played as a mash-up of their most celebrated characters. It was goofy, but they do those character types very well.
  • Leonard Nimoy’s voice acting was classy. It was especially nice to hear him ham it up a little as a baddie.
  • The last 45 minutes. Wow.
  • The troops gettin’ some. I’m not a big rah rah patriot. I quietly respect the life of which I take advantage, but I am not one to experience heart swelling pride during campy patriot pandering. However, the old school war pastiche that Michael Bay works with during the long finale played as a well executed tribute to The Dirty Dozen-era war movies. And the human combatants have leveled up when dealing with Decepticons.
  • The wingsuits. It’s possible that these scenes would not register in 2D, but in 3D this crazy extreme sport achieves fantastic visuals. Sure, it’s superfluous and is completely unnecessary, but when you are making a 2:40 movie anway, might as well include the kitchen sink.
  • The final battles scenes. When Optimus Prime lets go, it is awesome to behold. These boss fights make the movie worth seeing.
  • The sound. This is obvious, but the movie sounds amazing. Especially memorable are the bass strikes used when Decepticons attack or have the advantage.


The Bad Stuff

  • Michael Bay’s adolescent obsession with fat lipped, vapidly characterized Cover Girl models. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was only cast to be a doe-eyed sex toy with fat red lips. Bay’s brazenly brandished eye candy robs the movie of credibility because it is impossible to take a movie seriously that writes in more subtle emotion for an all CGI yellow robot in disguise named Bumble Bee than for the most prominent female character. Nearly all of the painful scenes in DotM can be attributed to attempting to work in  Huntington-Whiteley and whatever the point of her character is.
    • Bay works in gratuitous scenes of Huntington-Whitley’s Carly that range from exploitative to jarringly melodramatic. An example of the former is near the beginning where Carly’s panty-clad ass is followed up the stairs. And again later when her lecherous boss (probably the most Bay-like character in the trilogy) eye fucks Carly while using sensual words to describe a classic automobile/Carly’s tight body yo. As to the latter, a shot near the end includes dreadfully slow slow motion, shit burning, and a sexily tussled Carly at center frame just looking… looking… and cut away.  Once again Bay proves he is as emotionally deep as a shot glass.
    • No one bought the “romance” between Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf and those actors spent two movies together. Spending endless minutes attempting to get the audience to buy into a Shia LaBeouf and Huntington-Whitley romance while simultaneously using it as a crucial plot point? Yah, that’s terrible.
  • The first hour and fifteen minutes. I fell asleep twice. I was very tired – was up before four that morning – but still, twice. The first 75 minutes was empty and characterless, spending too much time on exposition, Sam and Carly’s “relationship,” and a bunch of other random scenes of disinterest.
  • Shia LaBeouf as Sam playing the rudderless hunk just looking to make a difference. First of all, I mean really? Every girl that walks past LaBeouf in DotM can’t help but to mentally undress the manly stud and look back at him with a wanton leer. Gag. This is how Michael Bay believes everyone acts – as if in the boring beginning bits of a porn flick. There is no other explanation.
  • The soundtrack. The score is ok. I didn’t take note of it one way or the other, but the soundtrack is atrocious. Songs are inserted in an attempt to create some emotional resonance, but instead the treacly modern rock makes every scene suck no matter other qualities. I’m not going to look up who the artists are, but the soundtrack sounds like Creed, Kings of Leon, Nickleback, Five for Fighting, Limp Bizkit and other soulless crap rock that is peddled to the tasteless and tone deaf.
  • Robot overload. I don’t know most of the Transformers, good or bad. Additionally, robots at close combat lose CGI definition. It looks a little messy.
  • The Villain Soliloquy. How many movies with villains have been made? For how long has the villain reveal speech been parodied and otherwise made fun of? Well, whatever, because it happens here. There is a human helping the Decepticons and he possess the typical evil human trait of explaining everything to the good guys before the day is in the bag. Even worse, the “dialogue” between the baddie and the goodie eventually drops all pretense and becomes exposition by way of a voiceover with obviously different audio quality, etc. Very lazy and amateurish writing.

What did you think?

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