‘Transformers 3 – Dark of the Moon’ – Gratuitously overlong, ridiculously stupid
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger
It’s the obnoxious pomposity of it all that really grates. Or rather the bewildering (off-)balance of tedious sincerity and bumbling idiocy. Almost three hours of bewilderingly awful nonsense, perforated with occasional flashes of overtly machoist invention and all finished off with a Michael Bay-patented veneer of impossibly shiny visuals – that is, in essence, all there is to Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon.
Let me just explain my position though; I’m 31 years old which means I’m plenty old enough to have been in love with the original cartoon series and action figures whilst growing up. Even at the age of 21 I would pine with my like-minded geeky friends over the eventual impossibility of a live-action Transformers movie, made dark, ominous and action packed. So when the original trailer for Bay’s opening entry emerged in 2007 I was eager with anticipation. Unlike most who find some joy in that train wreck of a movie, I came away astounded at its goofy humour, horrendous screenplay, appalling acting, embarrassing cameos and shoddy, shoddy editing. It was a complete mess of a film. Plus – they gave Optimus Prime lips. How dare they.
So I avoided the sequel Revenge of the Fallen like the plague despite its awesome trailer, backed up by the surge of ‘Worst Film Ever’ reviews that quickly boiled to the surface upon its 2009 release. Eventually, after finding so many lovers of the original movie detesting the sequel – I became curious and picked it up on Blu-Ray. To my (and I’m guessing your) surprise I found that I actually enjoyed it more than the first entry. Perhaps purely because my expectations were so impossibly low. It’s an opinion that may change if I ever have the stamina to reproach the ‘trilogy’.
So when Shia LaBeouf came out yet again to claim that ‘yes, the last film was rubbish but the next one is awesome’ and Michael Bay yet again promised the World that he had shrugged off the ill-fitting humour of the previous installment and was creating a far darker beast – I got my hopes up. The trailer (also yet again) seemed to back up their promises and I was fairly eager for Dark of the Moon‘s release date.
It’s safe to say that incredulity is the best word to surmise my feelings toward the eventual outcome. It’s hard being lied to over and over by film-makers but even harder when they pull the rug from you with such relish and ignorant perseverance that you really should have seen it coming. But no, incredulity isn’t a strong enough word. I wish I was creative or well-versed enough to collectively assemble the correct words to express my emotions toward this movie but instead I feel, rather ashamedly, that all I can say is that it’s a piece of shit. A complete and utter piece of shit.
The ‘story’ centres around a downed Autobots spacecraft that instigated the space race and brought the power of teleportation (albeit with constantly altering logic depending on the situation) to Earth. The Decepticons are using it to bring doom and destruction to the planet, or rather just Chicago for some odd reason, and our usual team have to stop them. I say usual team but of course Megan Fox is replaced by the equally sultry but even less talented Rosie Huntington-Whitely, hired (as Shia commented) due to the fact that she was a Victoria Secret’s model, meaning she could put up with Michael Bay’s misogynistic directing style and temper tantrums.
There’s very, very little positive to say about this movie. It features amazing special effects, of course, and a few stellar action sequences during its final quarter, in particular a sequence with a building falling apart and some tasty slow-motion melee battles between Optimus and other arbitrary bits of overly complicated metal. But even these moments are sullied by nonsensical or lazy development. The startlingly fun finale to the building collapse sees our protagonists sliding down a tilted glassy wall toward supposed doom. They escape this predicament by firing wildly in front of them and somehow falling neatly through a tiny window they miraculously hit from an impossible angle and all without lacerating their body to shreds. The oh-so-cool 3D slow motion battles may dazzle and impress visually but exist for one reason only – to make sure you can actually see what’s going on, because the designs of the robots are so similar and overtly complex that running at full speed just looks like a car crash of shiny f/x (which is true for much of the film’s action sequences). This was the case for the previous two films, but instead of actually spending the time to rectify this problem by using some creativity in a redesign so the robots are clearly defined and given more character to be identifiable – Bay opts out and decides to ‘fix’ the problem by distracting us with ‘cool’ imagery.
And, essentially, that’s the problem with Michael Bay films and in particular this trilogy. An endless myriad of problems and contrivances and he spends all his time desperately trying to distract us with shiny fx and dazzlingly expensive shots in the hope that we might not notice just how soul destroying, vacuous and horrendously amateurish it all is, ironic giving the clear talent on visual display.
But what makes it even teeth-gnashingly worse is that Bay has no idea he’s doing it. He’s so lost in his ADD, womanizing, blowing-shit-up brain-cycle that it’s impossible to reason with him or his films and it makes it all remarkably infuriating. Hollywood churns out ‘bad’, ludicrously expensive action films by the dozen every year, but that’s not what Bay does; those films are generally soulless, characterless films but they are competently made and show clearly educated film school talent, if no creativity, bravery or invention. But Michael Bay acts like a spoilt, ill-educated child gifted endless means to create whatever he wants, whenever he wants and with no consequences. This movie literally skips over entire integral sequences as if it’s been edited while blindfolded and when that isn’t the case we’re either being forced to watch gratuitously overlong, ridiculous and unnecessary (and yet again embarrassingly cameo-filled) scenes or are having key moments chopped down into a brief montage like a trailer for the movie.
After hours waiting for the Decepticons to invade Chicago and bring it to its knees – we finally reach the long-winded, tiresome buildup only to have our satisfying payoff botched into a ten second montage of fade-to-black teaser shots! It’s simply mind-boggling. Why? The questions only pile up. Why is Megatron just lying about in the street throughout the climax? How did Optimus get his wings back? What happened to Shia’s parents? Why have the Decepticons wait 40 years to enact their plan? Why the hell is Megatron talking to zebras?
It’s honestly a bewildering, exhausting film and my theater emptied the second the credits limped onto screen.
Yes, the 3D is some of the best ever seen, but it’s still ultimately forgettable. Yes, the action scenes, when taken out of context (as the trailers prove) are amazing to watch as a CV item. But we really shouldn’t be encouraging this kind of crass, mind-numbing nonsense anymore. We all deserve better and I genuinely feel it is detrimental to our brains and souls.
But then again, can a film that debuts its central female protagonist with an upskirt shot really be that bad?
Join WWW.STOPMICHAELBAY.COM and help end this charade then go watch Fast Five again instead.