If all you want from the new Transformers film is to watch robots fighting for two-and-a-half hours, you won’t be disappointed. As far as spectacle is concerned, director Michael Bay raises the bar considerably with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, delivering some jaw-dropping action sequences that are further enhanced by the remarkable use of 3D. Most stunning of these is one in which a python-like Decepticon strangles a skyscraper by wrapping itself around it, spraying glass everywhere, and prompting the humans trapped inside to leap out of windows and slide down the face of the rapidly tilting tower.
Unfortunately, Bay doesn’t know when to stop. He overwhelms our senses with a relentless and deafening battle sequence between the Autobots and the Decepticons that lasts close to 60 minutes, and ends with the city of Chicago resembling a post-apocalyptic ruin. It’s exhausting; at times it’s hard to distinguish the good robots from the bad ones, and midway through the crash-bang-boom my eyes glazed over. But like I said, if all you seek is non-stop carnage, you’ve come to the right place.
Dark of the Moon opens with the preposterous back-story that in 1961 the first Moon landing was fast-tracked not so much to make ‘giant leaps for mankind’, but to investigate the crash of an Autobot spacecraft into the dark side of the Moon. It all proves to be part of an elaborate Decepticon plan to take over the universe and enslave mankind. Expectedly it’s left to Shia LaBeouf and the Autobots to save the world again.
Now even if you were willing to overlook the rotten acting by Rosie Huntington-Whitley (who replaces Megan Fox as Shia LaBeouf’s girlfriend), and the cheesy dialogue that Josh Duhamel is saddled with, how do you bring yourself to forgive Michael Bay for wasting such fine actors as Frances McDormand and John Malkovich who appear as the director of national intelligence and LaBeouf’s new boss respectively? Also a newcomer to the series, Patrick Dempsey shows up as a slick businessman working both sides of the fence; while John Turturro, returning as former FBI agent Simmons, brings the only laughs in this otherwise grim film that’s missing that sense of daft fun that made the first Transformers movie so enjoyable. Of the robots, Bumblebee is back, as is Optimus Prime trusted friend of the humans who welcomes the return of his mentor Sentinel Prime.
Although an improvement on the last film Revenge of the Fallen, this third installment in the series has barely any humor or emotion to speak of. Because these films are based on a line of children’s toys, presumably they’re meant to appeal to the 7-year-old in each of us. If you’re expecting more than just explosions and loud action scenes, prepare to be disappointed.
I’m going with two out of five for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. At a running time of roughly 2 hours and 35 minutes, you’re going to need a lot of patience to survive this one!