Thursday, 30 June 2011

Cinema Review - Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Ok, deep breath.

The supposedly final part of the Transformers trilogy is here. And it’s exactly what you’d expect.
This is not a good thing.

I could just review it as the leave your brain at the door kind of movie it is, and as that kind of movie it’s great. The action is fantastic, there’s a lot of it, and it has MASSIVE TRANFORMING ROBOTS FIGHTING FFS!!!!!!!!!! But I’ll choose to be critical instead and put my serious film reviewer head on. Just for you.

I’ll get the good stuff out of the way first:

- Shia LeBoeuf is as likeable in this as he is in the other two.
- Rosie Thingummy-Whatsherface isn’t as bad as reported and does alright.
- Um, did I mention there’s MASSIVE TRANSFORMING ROBOTS FIGHTING? Cause there is.

And now, the bad.

The plot makes literally no sense whatsoever, and all the characters (especially both Autobots and Decepticons) do stupid things in order to advance the next nonsensical part of the plot. The one thing that hugely annoyed me though, was when Optimus Prime gave Sentinel Prime the Matrix of Leadership, which is something that would have been useful for him to have once he SPOILER eventually turns evil. And despite no-one being suspicious of Sentinel at this point, he decides to give it back to Optimus without a second thought.


And slightly earlier, Megatron (who for some reason decides that wearing a head scarf is enough to warrant the Transfomers mantra of ‘robots in disguise’) tells his pet bird transformer (seriously) to kill anyone who knew of the ship that landed on the moon back in the 60’s. This is a ship that contains Sentinel Prime, who is the only one who can activate this super gizmo that could end the war between the Autos and the Deceptions. So, when after the pet bird kills Ken Jeong’s conspiracy theorist Deep Wang (groan) and makes it look like a suicide, all covert-like, what does the robot then do? It proceeds to attack Sam, outing itself as the killer of Wang in the first place.

And, and, when it is revealed that Megatron and Sentinel were working together, it makes you wonder why Megatron just didn’t go and wake him up sooner. I mean Starscream flew into space at the end of the first movie; couldn’t Megatron have said to him at one point “Yo ‘scream, scoot on up to the moon and wake up Sentinel. We’ve got this super secret plan to destroy everything.” And then, we wouldn’t have had the stupidly convoluted plan of tricking the Autobots into finding an engine part of the Ark (the moon spaceship), which leads Optimus to awaken Sentinel and kick this whole thing off.


Later on the Autobots are told to leave Earth, because the Decepticons are evil. This makes literally no sense. Sending away the good robots that can protect you because the bad robots that are still on the planet and won’t leave willingly have threatened to kill you. And then SPOILER the Autobots get blown up because the Decepticons are, shock horror, untrustworthy. So now, the only thing that could protect the humans is gone, because the humans told them to go. Don’t worry though, the Autobots aren’t really dead. Not that you think they are for a second anyway. In fact, they only reveal themselves again after most of Chicago has been obliterated, with thousands killed, apparently because us earthlings needed to be taught a lesson about how the Decepticons shouldn’t be trusted. WHICH WE KNEW ALREADY!!!! Thanks, retarded US Government, and fuck you very much Optimus. People are fucking dying here.

(Dammit, I was going to try and not swear, but thinking about these things just makes my brain hurt, and also very very angry.)


And also, what were those other Transformers doing on the moon? They didn’t need to be revived like Sentinel Prime did. They just apparently woke up when the space bridge teleporter thing was turned on. Were they just chilling out on the moon for the past 50 years since the Ark crashed? And that’s another thing, the start of the movie says that Sentinel was trying to escape on the Ark during the Cybertron War, but the Decepticons shot him down. Why? If he was in league with the Decepticons, why would they have shot him down at all? And if only Sentinel knew of the alliance why did all those Transformers on the moon suddenly turn bad. One assumes they were on the Ark, and therefore as Sentinel was still a good robot at the time, they were good robots too.

I could list a whole load more of these stupid stupid little annoyances, but it’d take far too long.


Also, for a movie that is about MASSIVE ROBOTS FIGHTING!!!!!! It takes a while before we see any actual fighting. There’s like 2 big set pieces in the first hour and a half, and then the final 40 minute battle. Which yeah is cool, but you sort of get a bit fatigued by the end of it. It doesn’t build and build and build in the way that some great cinematic battles have, like in Return of the King for example. Its big battle here, big battle somewhere else, and another one somewhere else again. They all seem to happen one after the other. Some inter-cutting would have been nice.

And worst of all, Optimus Prime is taken out of the battle for twenty minutes by, get this, getting tangled in a bunch of cables. This is Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, who now apparently needs to tow around a truck that carries his weapons in it, and is useless without them, despite having concealed blades up his robot sleeves in the 2nd movie, getting caught in a bunch of fucking wires. It’s stupid, and then the other Autobots get captured which makes them look rubbish in comparison. We're not even shown how Bumblebee et al get captured, just all of a sudden they are. Even though half of them were on the other side of the city a second ago, now they're where they need to be to service the plot. The geography is all fucked up throughout. But it gets worse. At the point where everything seems lost and the Decepticons are about to execute Bumblebee, Optimus shows up out of nowhere and kicks everyone’s ass, saving the day. Ordinarily I would think that was cool, but because Optimus takes everyone out so easily, it the equivalent of the Power Rangers calling in the power sword, whenever things got really tough. Even the action didn’t excite as much as it had previously; I think it’s just a bit of overuse really. I mean, transforming robots was cool 2 movies ago (Optimus transforming in the city at the climax of TF1 is still one the coolest things I’ve ever seen) but now, and it pains me to say it, it kind of boring. In fact, we don't even see the bit that might have been pretty cool, the siege of Chicago by the Decepticons. We just cut to black at one point, and when we come back the city is overrun. I mean I get some things have to happen off screen, but not that. Surely, showing us the plight of some of the humans (the people you'd think we're supposed to care for) would have made the eventual defeat of the Decepticons more powerful. But no, we skip over that bit and don't see the Chicagoans die, because Michael Bay is only interested in the robots.


The final nail in the coffin though was that Rosie Thingummy-Whatsherface’s character is the one who convinces Megatron (Megatron!) to stand up and fight against Sentinel because if Sentinel wins, Megatron will only be his second in command. This is Megatron, leader of a highly advanced race of evil robots, tricked into saving Optimus’ life by a teenager using Psychology 101. And it works. Then despite Megatron saving Optimus’ life, Optimus then goes and flat out executes him. In fact, Optimus is a bit of a dick in this movie, letting the Decepticons destroy Chicago to teach the humans a ‘lesson’ and then killing Megatron who I bet was just about to apologise.

And then, about a minute after Megatron is defeated the movie ends with everyone laughing a chuckling. Don't worry about the thosuands of dead folk littering the streets. As long as Bumblebee makes a cute gag about Sam and Rosie Thingummy-Whatserface getting married and Optimus makes his usual sanctimonious speech, everything is alright.

The next list of bad things aren’t so much plot annoyances, just wee niggling things. Much like Decepticon testicles in the last movie.

- Why do some Transformers have beards? Seriously, this doesn’t make any sense. And why are some of them made to look old? Robots don’t age, and I very much doubt that when they transform there’s a part of their programming that turns their non-transformer form into various facial hair, and/or teeth. Megatron had teeth. Why? This makes no fucking sense whatsoever. And also, one of the Autobots has a Scottish accent and threatens to bottle somebody. I would have foud that funny if it wasn't so fucking ludricrous.
- What the fuck is Malkovich doing in this? He serves no purpose but to be Sam’s dicky boss. Yet he’s shoehorned into the plot at a later point. I don’t remember what he does, but he’s never seen again.
- Alan Tudyk plays a gay, apparently former Nazi, manservant to John Turturro’s now famous ex-FBI agent. I have no words.
- I have no idea who half the transformers were in the movie. In fact the only one I did know was Optimus Prime, because at least one character, normally Sam, screams it every 20 minutes.

-And also, despite being called Dark of the Moon, there is only one point of the movie where it is mentioned and that's right at the start.


So, overall. 2 stars, one for the action, and 1 because it's not utterly irredemmable, but it's pretty close.

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