Call them summer blockbusters, call them popcorn flicks, or just call them eye candy. They are films where you check your exceptions for any reminiscence of a story at the theater door, turn your brain off for 2 hours, just sit back and enjoy the eye popping images. The only problem is when those same flashy explosions and visual thrills aren't enough anymore that CGI anaesthesia starts to wear off, your brain switches back on, and can't help but question your initial logic of wasting 2 hours of your life. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is eye candy that is now too stale to stomach.
Dark of the Moon puts a spin on the 1960's space-race with both Russia and USA's real reason to be first on the moon was to be the first to investigate a crashed Autobot ship on Earth's only satellite. Like the last Transformers film Dark of the Moon picks up the rest of the story (I use that term loosely) two years later with its central character Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Sam has got himself a new girlfriend, Carly (played by underwear model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), and soon pulls her into the middle of his Transformers universe. With little knowledge of the crashed ship's cargo, being a mysterious weapon, Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots must protect it from falling into Decepticons hands.
I'll be the first person to give a movie a pass if at the very least it somewhat entertained me. I don't even mind defending Michael Bay, because fact is he has directed some of the most ground breaking action sequences and/or action movies in the last 20 years. I like the first Transformers movie a lot and I am even one of the few fans of it's sequel. I went into this third Transformers movie with the same mindset I think everyone should for a Michael Bay movie; that being expect a visual treat without a whole lot of substance. You have to take the movie for what it is, mostly just a mindless action movie, and try and enjoy the ride. I just couldn't do it anymore.
In the beginning of the film, when Bay goes through the whole 1960's space-race, that stuff is fantastic. It helps hype the audience up for the rest of the movie. The problem is when that first half an hour of hype is done, and the rest of the movie starts, it quickly becomes clear this franchise has run it's course. Where the last two films may have lacked in story or plot their action sequences at least had some kind of structure. Dark of the Moon not only lacks a main plot but has the most convoluted and unnecessary action sequences, stunts, and effects that never fit into the film or the character's motives. For example there is a huge action sequence that lasts over 20 minutes where dozens of military characters have to reach the top of a building to take one single shot and then when they finally get there for some reason no one does anything. There are a ton of other logistical arguments that can be made like why the Decepticons tactics were for some reason more effective in the first movie but two movies later they forget how to fight. Bottom line is Bay ran out of ways to wow audiences with these giant robots, using up all his best effects and ideas in his earlier two films.
At the very least I thought I could maybe recommend this movie because it is being screened in select 3D IMAX locations, but I can't even do that. Though the IMAX format looked amazing in the theater the 3D was barely noticeable. I kept taking my 3D IMAX glasses off throughout the film and couldn't see much of a difference.
This franchise has fallen a long way from the first film. Where the first film had a simple direction with only a small handful of unfunny comedic relief, this third film over complicates everything and has too many embarrassing moments from high calibre actors to count. Most notably a spray tanned John Malkovich humiliating himself by trying to us karate on an Autobot for fun. The writer Ehren Kruger obviously never had anyone proof read this script because his sense of humour is as ludicrous as the plot.
At over two and a half hours this movie will test your patience, your sanity, and your intelligence. These Transformer films were always built as moneymaking machines, hoping to attach more than just those G1 fans from the 80's. I didn't mind that the first film looked like a slowmo GMC car commercial at times, because they did sponsor the film and product placement in a film that size is just the nature of the beast. But it becomes insulting to the true fans of this material when as least two of the Autobots in the film are covered in more company logos than a Nascar. Bay and his producer must think audiences are completely clueless not to realize they are being force feed blatant product placements as a side dish to this main course of a horrible film.
If anyone can defend this film and even say it was better than Revenge of the Fallen I'd love to hear that argument. And saying because Leonard Nimoy quoted a classic Spock line in the film doesn't count.
Andrew Burns loves film and comics, and can be found writing about when those worlds converge. You can follow him on Twitter at @myAndrewBurns.