Movies

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Metal fatigue

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I imagine that in seeking a replacement for the discarded Megan Fox in the Transformers series, two qualifications were foremost in the filmmakers' minds: one, a talent for wearing very tight clothing; and, two, the ability to scurry through fields of smoking rubble in kicky high heels. The woman—the actress, I suppose—who met these requirements was Rosie Huntington-Whitely, an English Victoria's Secret model. Rosie lacks Fox's forthright wenchiness, but you'll be happy to know that…

Well, who cares, really? Huntington-Whitely is the designated babe in this third Transformers destruct-a-thon. Shia LaBeouf, unlikeliest of action men, is back as young Sam Witwicky, friend to the noble Autobots, scourge of the evil Decepticons. And series regulars John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, and Josh Duhamel, all returning for another tent-pole paycheck, are joined this time around by John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and designated supporting stud Patrick Dempsey. It's a crowded movie, especially after packing in Optimus Prime, Megatron, and all the other clanking behemoths once again on hand. But who would have it any other way?

Writer Ehren Kruger, who worked on the last Transformers film (the widely reviled Revenge of the Fallen), here had script duties all to himself, and he has fashioned a narrative of ornate silliness—which is to say, pretty good pulpy fun, when it's not engulfed by digital hubbub. In a brisk prologue, we learn that America's 1969 Apollo flight was actually a mission to investigate a mysterious alien spaceship that had crashed on the dark side of the moon, and to bring back its payload of mysterious alien technology. That mission, in this telling, was accomplished.

Down on Earth decades later, in a scene that begins with a traveling closeup of Huntington-Whitely's eloquent behind, we find Sam desperate for a job now that he has graduated college. He finds one in a company run by the eccentric Bruce Brazos (played by Malkovich with his customary eccentricity), but then has to worry about a slick millionaire named Dylan (Dempsey) moving in on his new girlfriend (Huntington-Whitely). More stressful yet, a world-threatening emergency soon arises involving the helpful Autobots—exiled from their home planet of Cybertron and now employed as international trouble-shooters by U.S. intelligence—and the ferocious Decepticons, who are currently on their way to Earth with conquest and enslavement at the top of their to-do list.

Let's leave it at that. Along with attempting to extend the franchise with a serviceable script, director Michael Bay has also shot this installment in 3D, a process of decreasing wonderment. He uses it rousingly at many points, but given all of his usual blurry-cam cinematography (to obscure the digital seams in the series' rampant effects work), the result sometimes creates the sensation of being sucked into a CGI Mixmaster—and not always in a good way. Giant Transformers erupt out of everyday automotive transport to gallop down highways and smack each other around, and—in one of the film's more impressively constructed sequences—the skyscrapers of Chicago are knocked about like bowling pins. There is, you'll be unsurprised to know, an awful lot of this stuff.

It's also a problem that the most emotionally affecting characters here are the homesick Autobots. LaBeouf, an actor of limited charisma, still can't make much out of his character; and it doesn't help that in his scenes with the decorative Huntington-Whitely, sparks consistently fail to fly. LaBeouf also displays an alarming penchant for screamy-face overacting, in which he's exceeded only by the shameless Ken Jeong, playing an irritating Asian-American character named, I'm afraid, Wang. In addition, the dialogue is sometimes as clanky as the titular protagonists, as in "Defenders of Earth—we have come for your natural resources!"

The Transformers franchise has inevitably grown repetitive, and it's beginning to feel played out. This movie's overriding problem is the fact that it's nearly two and a half hours long. I'm sure the picture's target audience of Hasbro fanboys (who were cheering at the screening I attended) won't consider this a defect, but I found the last third of the film to be excruciatingly monotonous. That's just me, of course. Your move.

Kurt Loder is a writer living in New York. His third book, a collection of film reviews called The Good, the Bad and the Godawful, will be published in November by St. Martin's Press.


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120 responses to “Transformers: Dark of the Moon

  1. Beginning to feel played out?

    1. You beat me to it. Played out on day one.

    2. Thirded. I had to reread that line a few times.

    3. Yeah I was gonna say, it felt played out 15 minutes into the first movie.

  2. I’m not even reading this one, Loder. I saw the excremental Trans#2 to be a good father to my son.

    The horror. Never again. Never. Again.

    1. LMAOOOOOO @ your comment.

      Spot on~!

    2. Re: Almanian,

      Sheesh, tell me about it. My six year old wants me to take him to see this one. I told my wife that maybe I can fake a business trip and lay off for a week or so, but she replied that it would never work as my son would grow suspicious (and so would she *wink* *wink*)

  3. Dark of the Moon

    Transformers/Twilight franchise-crossover? Terrible title.

    1. They knew better than to use the name Dark Side of the Moon.

      1. I’d have the skies around their studios filled with inflatable pigs soooo fast….

      2. Money, so they say, IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL TODAY
        but if you ask for money back watching this tripe don’t be surprised if they say no way
        no way
        no way
        no way no way……………

        1. Actually, it’s “love of money”, buy why quibble?

      3. sooo…. if you fire up a bowl and start the Dark Side of the Moon right after the opening credits….?

  4. *Paging Episiarch*

    1. He’s going over color swatches for new drapes with his life partner.

      I keed! I keed!

    2. I refuse to read this review on the grounds that it will drive me into an uncontrollable incandescent rage that Loder said “is beginning to feel played out”.

      1. “Incandescent Rage”

        Nice!

        1. “I’m literally angry with rage!”

      2. I’m sorry, but you really do need to switch to compact fluorescent rage now.

        Thanks.

        1. “Efficient rage” makes me so annngrrryy.

          1. just don’t break the bulb, calling in HazMat is expensive…..

  5. I read that Fox was kicked off the movie because she jokingly called Micheal Bay Hitler in an interview and so producer Spielberg removed her.

    What the fuck is wrong with good clean hyperbole???

    1. You know else hated good clean hyperbole?

    2. He murdered millions of people’s childhood, so I think the comparison is apt.

      1. That reminds me, its about time we got the Downfall parody of Hitler yelling about how horrible Michael Bay is.

        1. Youtube removes them… so you’d have to put it up on YouPorn or xhamster or something.

          1. Why the hell would I watch a Downfall parody if I’m YouPorn or xhamster? Priorities, man!

        2. No it would have to be about how horrible this movie is and how high of hopes Hitler had that it would be good.

      2. If overgrown nerds and spergs are so emotionally broken that a fucking movie “ruins their childhood,” they clearly should have been bullycided a long time ago.

    3. Spielberg has become a Holocaust-obsessed, humorless old grandmother. As reflected by his movies too.

      This used to be a guy who had some fun with Nazis in his Indiana Jones movies.
      Now he sanctimoniously fires people for using the name “Hitler”.
      Well, there goes half of Hollywood during the Bush years.

  6. Speaking of played-out, cue Episiarch’s fetishistic hatred of Michael Bay in 5…4…3…

    1. It is not just Epi. Every sane person has a perfectly rational reaction to Michael Bay that is somewhere between ferocious contempt and outright loathing.

      That man’s ghost will haunt cinema for centuries to come.

      1. Don’t respond to the troll, dude. Just ignore. Always ignore.

        1. Don’t respond to the troll, dude. Just ignore. Always ignore.

          Of all the trolled people i never expected you to write that.

          Is this one of those do as i say not as i do lectures?

          1. *chirp*

      2. Uhhuh. His movies do, like, $700 million each time. Clearly every sane person hates him.

        1. …with a pinch of ad hominem:

          H&R commentators hate Micheal Bay. Therefore, only an insane person likes his movies!

  7. This was a Saturday morning cartoon, right? For a generation of kids who said “Rad” a lot?

    It was played out before it even started.

    1. For the record, I was part of that generation. The best and brightest of us stuck to Thundercats and Voltron.

      1. After Robotech and Lancelot Link, Saturday morning for kids all went to hell.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV9Y0Qy0U20

        Except for “The Tick”.

        1. You play with the cards you’re dealt. My generation had what we had, and to be honest, Thundercats was kinda cool. I’ll grant you that the cartoons of my era began a rapid decline. So much so, that by ninth grade, I traded in my cartoons for CSPAN.

          1. Imma date myself and bring up my childhood favorite…..

            The one, the only GRENDIZER!!!!

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

            Grendizer GO!!

          2. Robotech was pretty damn awesome. I mean, characters died. In a cartoon. On regular television.

            1. It’s the only anime where I think the American version is better than the Japanese. Ours didn’t feature a cross-dresser, and end with the world being saved by a pop-singer

            2. I mean, characters died. In a cartoon.
              Ahem

              Twice in one day. (Oh, and it’s Brazil because of some copyright bs)

              1. Dude, I love me some Jonny Quest, but we’re talking about a cartoon made in the 60’s as opposed to one made in the 80’s. Big difference.

                1. Just sayin’ that’s the reason I liked JQ. I thought you were a youngin’.

                2. I loved Johnny Quest. I’m sure it’s not as good as I remember, but I’d like to find some copies for my son to watch.

            3. Star Blazers had a main character die. Of course the American version had some editing to remove some of the more violent aspects.

              1. No mention of Dino Riders yet? Best cartoon and coolest toys of the 80’s.

          3. By the 9th grade I’d traded in cartoons for computers. Then 4years later, AdultSwim came to be, and I got my cartoons back.

            Now, where’d I put my VHS of the GOOD transformers movie…wait, where I put the VCR….crap, time to upgrade.

          4. The best and brightest of us stuck to Thundercats and Voltron.

            My two favorites(whiffle ball bat = sword of omens), plus Snorks…. We didn’t have cable when I was a kid, give me a break. Seriously though, I can’t even recall ever watching Transformers or Smurfs as a young’un at home. I recall GI Joe somewhat, but it definitely wasn’t on my must watch list. I liked He-Man too, but I was pretty young when I liked that/when it was the air. Who can remember?

            1. I wish I could remember the name of the cartoon that came on in the morning during 7th grade. Puberty was in full swing, big boobed, scantily-clad blonde lady was the bad guy, and damn, she was hot.

              1. Hmmm. Tell me more…..

            2. Cartoons ended for me before 6th grade. Comics survived for another couple of years, though.

              Transformers were definitely my favorite, though I never could get over the death of Optimus Prime in the movie, and transfer of the Prime Matrix to Rodimus Prime.

              Enjoyed the hell out of some Thundercats and GI Joe, too. But, I always thought Voltron was vile. I would say it must be just me, but I’ve had multiple conversations with others who hated Voltron.

              Remember, the Thundercats spin-off Silver Hawks? I never could get into that one.

        2. Wow Ken, there must be 6 of us Tick fans running about. I even watched the live action series. Warburton is hi-larious.

          Batmanuel: “I had to ‘save them’ three times that night, if you know what I mean…”
          Tick: “Nope!”

      2. When was the last time you actually watched a Voltron cartoon? It’s embarrassingly awful. It’s the cartoon predecessor of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

        1. AS showed it for a while, in the right-before-the-nightly-repeat slot. The best time of day to watch Voltron, if you’re gonna.

        2. The only cool thing about Voltron was Optimus Prime doing the opening introduction for the episodes.

      3. I did like the cartoon, although from the way that I understand it the honcho’s at Hasbro saw it as nothing more than a half hour ad for the toys (of which I had many, not to brag, to include Metroplex and the Decepticon city as well). Apparently they were quite shocked at the outcry when they offed Optimus Prime in the cartoon movie.

        Anyhow, my mornings before school were all about Silverhawks and after school was Transformers .

      4. It’s okay to admit you preferred Silverhawks and M.A.S.K., you know.

    2. Transformers was just a cheap rip off of Gundam and the movies are a rip off of Neon Genesis Evagalion. Both are great franchises and I’d rather wait for next segment of the Eva rebuild than watch this.

      1. I appreciate that some of the animated stuff was good–but Lancelot Link was one of the best things that was ever on television!

        It was created by two of the writers from the TV show “Get Smart”. They had all these scripts sitting around that they’d written for Get Smart, but they’d been rejected. They protested on one of the scripts, “This script is so funny, a monkey could do it!” And the producer said, “Well go get some monkeys then–’cause we’re not doin’ it!”

        So that got some monkeys and did the scripts!

        That’s why Lance is so much like Max Smart. That’s why Mata Hari is like 99. That’s why Darwin is so much like “The Chief”. It’s chimpanzees doing Get Smart scripts! It’s ingenious!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIPfqON1-L4

        After the commercial breaks, Lance was in a band called “Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution”

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VmTmvBzNFY4

        They should release all the episodes through the Criterion Collection.

  8. Kurt Loder has the most unenviable job in America if he is forced to actually watch TF3 and actually waste his energy actually writing a review of it. Were I in his shoes, I would have simply walked into the theatre at some point a half hour into it showing, walked out within 2 minutes, and penned “thangz asplode!!!1!!1!!” and left it at that.

    1. And you should actually forgive my redundant use of actually while I am actually writing…. actually.

    2. I feel sorrier for reviewers like Peter Travers who have to see crap like Transformers 3 and write positive reviews. Shit, he gave the King Kong remake 4 stars.

      1. He deserves every bit of pain he receives just for giving such garbage positive reviews.

        1. Waterboarding should be reserved for special occasions.

    3. Kurt Loder has the most unenviable job in America if he is forced to actually watch TF3 and actually waste his energy actually writing a review of it.

      Tough shit! I have to sit in meetings with “real live” government employees (well maybe that’s exaggeration…you can’t actually call them living) at least Loder has the luxury of falling asleep in the theater and recycling his Transformers 2 review after gleaning the plot details about 3 from Wikipedia.

      I have no sympathy

      1. Know what you mean, fish…(sigh)…know what you mean.

        Does it seem to you that these government employees somehow drain your soul through some macabre spatial osmosis, because I think I’m dying more everyday which can’t be wholly accounted for by simple aging?

  9. I’ll watch this one when Rifftrax does a number on it.

    1. I would be willing to watch it if it was the butt of a MST3K comeback. Short of that, I cannot find any merit to subject myself to that. Moreover, I would oppose showing it a Gitmo based on the inhumanity of such a practice.

      1. The RiffTrax dudes really hated Transformers 2 — they almost ranted a few times, which says a lot considering they’re professional comedians. ****** ******* **** ************* ******* Michael Bay.

  10. Shia LaBeouf, unlikeliest of action men,

    By my count, that sentence lacks at least two pairs of scare quotes.

    1. The guy’s considered a talented young “dude” in Hollywood, for whatever that’s worth. I don’t see it. But I sure as fuck would overact and jump around like an epileptic if it paid nearly as well as his job.

      1. If you bring in box office, you are the man (or woman). Somehow–that I don’t understand–he can star in big movies and pull in a ton of money. Therefore, he gets the roles until he stops bringing in the money.

        1. See: the career of just about every Brat Packer.

        2. He’s Jewish right, along with Spielberg who hired him for this shit? I’m going to go out on the insanity limb and postulate it has something nefarious to do with AIPAC.

          Back in the real world, I think his success and that of the adjacent twilight-type bullshit can be laid at the feet of our “excellent” public education system.

          1. Please, Hollywood is filled will Jews who are better actors than Shia LaBeouf. My money is on blackmail pics or misguided fatherly feelings toward a non-threatening youngster who knows how to kiss up to his elders.

          2. If Steven Spielberg wanted a Jewish star for Transformers, he should have hired Joseph Gordon-Levitt and/or Logan Lerman. At least they’re both fully Jewish, which Shia LaBeouf isn’t even close to being.

    2. How can you be an action man when you have so much estrogen in your name?

      Just saying Shia LeBeouf makes me want to move to San Francisco.

      1. Maybe if they pronounced it “La-Beef”?

        1. Even more appropriate for SF!

      2. I am curious how one of his ancestors got the label “the beef”. That seems like odd nomenclature for a person.

        I remember a girlfriend of mine watching him on Disney channel back when we were in college, and even then, I was thinking, “wow what a fag”.

        1. Yeah, I never understood his appeal beyond being able to pull off standard Disney fare. To his credit though not many people survive the Disney channel.

        2. It’s french beef though. Not nearly as beefy and heroic as Corn Fed American Beef.

          1. I’ve got your corn fed American beef right over….

            ….Oh, here it is!

  11. An explosion too big? Too many assplosions? Eff you! My trazillions of dollars didn’t make itself.

    P.S. Anybody know how much a black hole costs? Cause I want to crash one into the moon.

    1. Hitler!!!

    2. Fuck you Michael.

  12. Saw the first one, and nostalgia carried me through it moderately well, though I was irritated?pardon, enraged?that Bay was directing. The second looked execrable, and I see nothing on offer here to make me think this is any better. Plus, Megan Fox > Rosie Huntington-Whitely.

  13. a scene that begins with a traveling closeup of Huntington-Whitely’s eloquent behind,

    Hmm? Did you say something? Sorry, I kind of drifted off, there.

  14. I’m still not sure what people expected from a movie about big robots, fighting other big robots, that Bay didn’t deliver.

    Has the possibility been covered yet that all the vitriol is misplaced disappointment at a failed attempt to relive childhood?

    1. In replying, I will speak your language. Your question is an astute one. Yes, what does an adult human expect from a movie about fighting robots that is marketed to 14-year-old human boys? And why would an alleged capitalist human adult decry the successful creation and marketing of this particular art form? These critics seem to be personally offended by others’ chosen form of entertainment. It is…how do the humans say…comically elitist.

      1. Yes, what does an adult human expect from a movie about fighting robots that is marketed to 14-year-old human boys?

        Poetry godammit……. f’ing poetry! I’m getting real tired of you philistines excusing this kind of behavior! 😉

    2. I’m still not sure what people expected from a movie about big robots, fighting other big robots, that Bay didn’t deliver.

      So much disappointment Optimus Prime didn’t recite Shakespeare. I found the Transformers movies a fun escape, which is what I expect out of movies. I don’t want to have to think. I have to do that at work.

  15. I must admit growing up in the 80’s with the cartoons, this movie could not be better. If you actually are trying to watch this movie and digest the inner workings of what Michael Bay put out there for us to view. The USA, actually our world as a whole is in real big trouble, its rated PG-13 for crying out loud.

  16. Remember that shitty Michael Douglas movie where he’s the President, and he’s being challenged by uncaring, ungodly, heartless, and retarded Republicans for the next election, and at the end, he gives a really mundane speech about how his opponent doesn’t give a shit about them, is inferior, that he DOES give a shit, and that “I want to ban handguns because I consider them a risk to national security!!!!”

    Those were the good old days when a movie was only partly based upon, and dedicated to, peddling statist bullshit.

    Anybody got any good political movies (preferably recent) to recommend?

    1. The Expendables?

      A dazzling flim regarding the finer points of foreign policy and diplomatic intrigue.

    2. Thank You for Smoking

    3. Not a movie, but the first season of “Harry’s Law” is definitely worth watching.

    4. The funniest part is that the climax of that movie involves the president giving a big speech about how he is a card-carrying member of the ACLU, “whose sole purpose is to uphold the Bill of Rights,” right before he says that he will go door to door to take away people’s guns to make Americans all safer.

  17. “LaBeouf also displays an alarming penchant for screamy-face overacting, in which he’s exceeded only by the shameless Ken Jeong, playing an irritating Asian-American character named, I’m afraid, Wang.’

    Not sure I get Kurt’s point. Wang is the 2nd most common surname in China, and variations of it are extremely common in nearly every Asian country.

    1. If this one has half the robot-sexual innuendo as part 2, I’m sure there’s a couple Wang jokes thrown in. In fact, the audience DEMANDS it.

    2. I realize it’s a common Chinese name. However, it prompted a ripple of tittering in the young American male audience I saw the movie with — which I suspect (but don’t know, of course) was the filmmakers’ low-comic intent.

      1. which I suspect (but don’t know, of course) was the filmmakers’ low-comic intent.

        Of course it was–the whole series caters to kids and emotionally stunted nerds. Neither of those demographics are known for sophisticated tastes.

  18. Anyway, and more to the point, I give you Rosie Huntington-Whitely:

    http://www.voyonsvoir.fr/img_p…..zine_6.jpg

  19. Along with attempting to extend the franchise with a serviceable script, director Michael Bay has also shot this installment in 3D, a process of decreasing wonderment.

  20. Director Michael Bay has also shot this installment in 3D, a process of decreasing wonderment.Read out full Post at : http://tinyurl.com/5rbm68z

  21. I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for
    $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by fed3x. I will never again pay expensive r3tailprices at stores.I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to
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  22. You missed so many things I may have to write my own review:

    1) the voice of Leonard Nimoy

    2) LaBeouf in Obamanoid orgasm because Barry gave him a medal; but then he can’t get a job in Obama’s economy

    3) The United Nations leading humanity into a treaty with the Decepticons that ensures genocide and slavery

    4) Chicago turned into a city of literal Machine Politics

    Why pick on the poor Victoria’s Secret girl. She was as good an actress as many and played her role just fine.

  23. Frances McDormand, and designated supporting stud Patrick Dempsey. It’s a crowded movie, especially after packing in Optimus Prime, Megatron, http://www.nikewinkel.com/scho…..-c-36.html and all the other clanking behemoths once again on hand. But who would have it any other way?

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