Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Here we go again. Anytime I watch Michael Bay’s Transformers (and it really is Michael Bays) I feel like some glutton for punishment. I know it’s not going to be the Transformers movie I want to see but as a geek who has a Toy Optimus Prime sitting in front of him as he writes this, as a person who grew up on Transformers and still loves them (G1) today I feel I can’t help but watch it, even if it is going to be a total train wreck it will be a spectacular one and if you’re not there watching it you’re missing out on the town gossip on the movie.

“Transformers the Dark of the Moon” 3D is the best of the Trilogy. That might not be saying much for some people but here’s why I think so.

Firstly, it’s not as big as a train wreck as the others.

The film is toned down, the sexual innuendo is still there, the gratuitous shots of women’s backsides is still there. The stereotypes are still there. The poor humor and implied swearing is still there. But! it’s tamer than before.  This time we do not see John Turturro in his underwear, we don’t see Transformers peeing nor do we see their scrotum, the female money shots are less and the women in this movie seem to wear more clothes than before which may or may not please some people. Personally I’m paying to see Transforming robots beat the crap out of each other, not a cheap exploitation flick. It’s still painfully Bayish but he knocks it off a bit more. This movie also has two writers less. Those being Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman who are now currently writing for the Star Trek film franchise. Frankly the film is a little more coherent to me. It seems to have a stronger plot this time and depends less on the MacGuffin ie the ‘all sparks cube’, the ‘matrix of leadership’, *cough* red matter *cough*.

It’s a geek out film for Transformer G1 fans. We got the Ark which has now been tied into the 1960s space race and makes for  fantastic opening to the movie in my opinion, it plays a little more darker and serious and one of the best scenes in the movie is seeing Buzz Aldrin talk with Optimus Prime! Two of America’s most iconic heroes. Simply wonderful.

Peter Cullen is in top form and I’ll say again and again, ‘The man is Optimus Prime’. That voice of his is something epic in of itself. As if that wasn’t great enough we have Galvatron himself, Mr Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime, seeing these two G1 voices on screen since the animated movie was awesome and finally we hear them in the same scenes together. A chance we didn’t have with “Transformers the Movie” in 1989. The continuity ties in a little closer to G1, the matrix of Leadership, the ark, the space bridge, rather then just objects named for the sake of reference.

More goodness.

This is the first live action transformers film where I could actually see what the hell was going on. The previous two movies the shots were so close to the action, to the transforming that it was impossible to view it properly. It was just a blur up close! Here we can finally appreciate the scale of the transformers and action by having the camera back a few meters.  The action itself is as Bay usual standard. This time he pretty much flipping destroys a city. We don’t see the consequences of such devastation to the people of earth but heck, it sure looked good! I only feel sorry for the next director who takes the reins of this franchise, the action is so off the scale in this one that the next director has to go for something like planet destruction (Unicron please). Or maybe the next director will focus on story or dramatic points more which would also be refreshing to see.

Bad points. Besides Optimus Prime, Bumble Bee, Megatron, Starscream and Sentinal Prime there isn’t much characterization with the transformers in general. The rest of the transformers have no personality except for making grunts. The main attraction of transformers is the transformers themselves. Therefore when characters are destroyed in these movies there’s little dramatic impact, the features of he transformers, in particular the decepticons are so alien and bland that it’s almost difficult to recognize who is who.

Shockwave…

Now I’m a massive Shockwave fan and when I heard he was gong to be a villain in this movie I had a fangasm and here’s why….

Back in the 80s and early 90s Marvels UK Transformer comic was simply epic. This was in no small part to people like Simon Furman who knew how to tell a good transformer story. In the animated G1 series Shockwave was merely a soldier keeping cybertron warm until the glorious megatron returned. In the comics Shockwave was his own Robot. Cold and calculated and sometimes ruthless this guy took out both the decepticons and the autobots and literally had optimus primes head.

In this movie he is just an assassin. The hype surrounding his inclusion in the film was, well, over hyped. We see him at the beginning and the end of the movie for the juicy action scenes but beyond that there is nor character. Everyone refers to him as Shockwave and he has that classic cyclops look (all bayfomer style unfortunately) but he adds nothing to the story. He is not an antagonist. Unfortunately the character serves no real purpose, even less than the G1 animated series counterpart. Same goes for Soundwave. These characters are fan favorites but they lack personality.

Optimus Prime is living out an Arnold Schwarzenegger R rated film as he blasts away decepticons without mercy, not completely the Optimus we all knew and love. I also thought that the Tansformers working around the world protecting America’s interests and dealing with problems such as illegal nuclear facilities isn’t suited to these characters. The Autobots are heroes and like Superman they can’t solve all the worlds problems. Dealing with real world political situations isn’t what they are about, they are bigger than that. They come from a planet ravaged by war but it is not their place to fix ours, only to teach us of the danger of war and be a symbol of truth and justice but not to enforce that justice on a civilization not equal to their own. Transformers always deal with bigger problems, decpticons, planet eating planets etc.
The 3D in this is impressive compared to most but I still think it’s nothing to gush over and usually I find myself not noticing the 3D after a while. It is used in some good effect, example is  Turturro Pointing guns out at the audience John Woo style, another is Sam flying around while tied to Starscream.

So in the past 4 years I have seen all 3 Transformers movies and while they do gradually get better it’s not really saying much for the franchise. Suffice to say I hope the next digs deeper into transformer mythology and less into exploding toys mythology and makes it a little more a movie some of us still hope for. Bay has put the toys back in the box, it’s time for someone else to play.

Favorite Quote: “You didn’t betray me, you betrayed yourself.” – Optimus Prime

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