Third Time’s A Charm

Third Time’s A Charm

Worth It
Jul 2, 2011

Let the record show that I hated the first Transformers movie. It was typical Michael Bay; too long on action, story too thin on story. A mindless orgy of eye-candy for Gen Y’ers who want to relive their childhood love for Hasbro’s techno toys. I distinctly remember midway through the movie thinking, onlineWhat’s going on? How long have I been watching this? What’s happening?!”  It was a dizzying exercise in action for action’s sake. Needless to say, look I didn’t bother with the second film. And based on the critical reviews and audience feedback, I’m glad I didn’t lose that 2 and 1/2 hours of my life.

So, when I heard about Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I immediately rolled my eyes and groaned. The day it opened a friend of mine messaged me, told me he saw it and asked if I was going to review it. I said I didn’t need to see it to know that it’s a piece of crap. He wrote back telling me that I should give it a try, that it’s “good fun”. So I paused a moment and realized that, as a critic, I need to try ALL types of movies. Even the one’s I’m sure I’ll hate. After all, if I don’t step out of my comfort zone, I’ll only see what I like and simply gush about everything I watch. Fun for me, boring for you. So, the other day I trekked out to the theatre for a matinée, braced myself, and watched Transformers: Dark of the Moon in 3D.

The basic premise is a mildly more interesting than the last two films. In 1961, a damaged autobot ship crash-lands on the earth’s moon. The dark side, to be exact. Piloted by Sentinel Prime, it carries the “Pillars”, a technology that could save Cybertron. On Earth, the crash is detected by NASA and President Kennedy authorizes the mission to put a man on the moon as a cover. In 1969, Apollo 11 lands on the surface of the Moon to investigate the crashed ship. But unbeknownst to everyone else, the Decepticon have been pilfering the rest of the ship, attaining many of the hundreds of “Pillars”. Fast forward to today, Optimus Prime learns of this NASA discovery and launches off to the moon to extract what he can find. He discovers the leader of Cybertron, Sentinel Prime, along with 5 of the “Pillars”, including the main controller. Then blah, blah, blah…Shia LeBeouf, way-hotter-than-Megan-Fox-super-hot-British-actress, Josh Duhamel, countless action sequences, outrageous stunts, oil is spilt, metal is broken and 157 minutes later the credits roll.

So, here’s the deal. I HATE THIS FRANCHISE. It is a stupid toy that never made sense and the King of lifeless Hollywood action movies, Michael Bay, has turned it into a film trilogy. Here are just a few of my beefs about Transformers…

* A world of inorganic creatures that consist of metal and machinery that can assemble themselves into automobiles but then transform into people? This is a legitimate “alien” race??? Sounds like somebody at a toy company creating a brand that little boys will drool over…oh wait, never mind.
* In the movie, the machines are sparkling clean while operating in automobile-mode. But the second they transform into robots, they are all scraped, dented and marked. Lame.
* Wheelie and Brains are two of the most obnoxious and racist characters I’ve seen in a long time.
*Optimus Prime’s narration is stilted and stupid. Quite frankly, it’s insulting to the audience. Well, actually the part of the audience that doesn’t see it as insulting deserves it, I guess.

And the list goes on. But, in a nutshell, the whole Transformer’s trilogy is silly and shallow, packed with every conceivable action sequence Bay can dream up. Now, bloated action movies are okay if there is an element of plot and at least some character development. After all, why should I care that two massive robots are pounding the pistons out of each other if I don’t connect with the good guy? Transformers: Dark of the Moon gets points for achieving that. Unlike the previous Transformers films, I actually liked this plot line and, for once, was able to follow it. And while I find Sam Witwicky to be an obnoxious hero, he actually starts to become a bit of a real person. But the character I was most surprised with was Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy). I’ve always hated Optimus and Megatron for being shallow characters that epitomize the extremes of good and evil. There’s no reason behind their convictions. There’s no tension within either of them. But Sentinel, well, he actually has some emotional complexity. So, that was refreshing. Toss in an amazing cast of REAL actors; Ken Jeong, John Malkovich, John Torturro, Frances McDormand, and you find yourself with just enough quality acting to stay connected between battle scenes. I’ll never understand how Bay got all these talented people in the movie, but I’m glad he did. Finally, I have to admit, the action scenes in this film are particularly stunning (especially in 3D). Each action sequence is just long enough and pretty damned spectacular. The other films were guilty of battle scenes that just went on and on to the point where you didn’t know what was going on anymore. Transformers: Dark of the Moon manages to reign in the testosterone-fuelled action just enough to make it truly entertaining.

As much as I hate the franchise, I admit that I actually enjoyed this film. It minimized all the things I hated about the previous films and maximized the stuff that was actually entertaining. It was still too long, though. And there was lots about it I didn’t like. But overall, I was entertained and didn’t roll my eyes nearly as much as I did previously. So, if you’re in the mood for an over-the-top action flick that doesn’t challenge your brain too much, I’d recommend Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Let’s just hope that Michael Bay sticks to his word and doesn’t tackle a fourth film. Really. Ya done good with this one, Michael. Let’s end it on a high note.

About the Author

Craig the Critic


  1. This about mirrors my experience with the films: saw the first one and wasn’t impressed, skipped the second, went to see this one with friends and didn’t exactly love it, but didn’t hate it as much as the first one. Although to be fair I was watching the french version so I understood about half of what little dialogue there was. Impressive effects, acting has improved, too long though.

    • Cool. Good to hear I’m not alone 🙂 I do wish Michael Bay knew how to make an action film under 2 hours. I think it could have been stronger if it were condensed a little.
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