Think of that cool transforming sound
Spoiler alert: the tricked out cars seen in the trailers for Transformers: Dark of the Moon weren’t actually cars. They were robots. In disguise.
The first 15 minutes of Michael Bay’s third (and purportedly final) Transformers film features the following: Autobots fighting Decepticons on their home planet, Cybertron. Explosions. Altered historical footage of Kennedy à la Forrest Gump (where we learn that the space race was actually about frigging Transformers). Explosions. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong snooping around a wrecked Autobot ship. Explosions! And a gratuitous ass-shot of Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), the new love-interest for hero Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf).
This is a Michael Bay film through-and-through. Explosions are explodey, fights (when they finally start happening) are fightey, and the main twist is … twisty enough.
Some new bots join the cast as well, from charmingly obvious Autobot Mirage (an Italian car with an Italian accent) to CGI-candy Laserbeak (evil robo-bird), to the unnerving Sentinel Prime, an ancient Autobot leader voiced by Leonard Nimoy that kind of looks like Leonard Nimoy.
All this is great, and it makes one wish that the title of the film was Transformers: Just Big Fuckin’ Robots Fighting. But, yeah—plot. The Autobots discover the secret on the “dark of the moon” (which everyone else refers to as “the dark side of the moon,” a title they probably couldn’t use because Roger Waters is a dick) and Optimus goes up there to revive his robotic father-figure, Leonard Prime. There’s a lecture about space bridges, and how the Decepticons could use Sentinel Nimoy to teleport reinforcements to Earth, and John Turturro’s ex-special ops character gets a Dutch manservant named Dutch, for some reason. Meanwhile, Sam is feeling impotent because he just graduated college and he can’t find a job (he’s so relatable), even though he’s helped saved the world twice—something the audience is constantly reminded of.
Eventually, you’re left praying for something, anything, to blow up or turn into a robot—preferably both.
The slow start might even be bearable were it not for other factors. LaBeouf actually does manage to get some laughs with his insecure slapstick routine, and a few unexpected cameos also lighten things up.
But even in this third outing, Transformers still feels like it’s tossing around heavy political ideas where they don’t belong. When Optimus Prime proclaims that “In the name of freedom, we take the battle to them,” or when Spockbot drones on about the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, it starts to seem like every Cybertronian in the universe is running the latest version of “AssholeRhetoric.exe.”
At its best, Dark of the Moon is all the rockin’, lasertastic robo-freedom-sex you’d want out of a Transformers movie. At its worst, it’s a serious post-coital discussion about foreign interventionism with a one-night stand that’s overstaying their welcome.
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
RATED | PG-13
OPENS | 6.29.11