Being a 28 year old bloke and a child of the 1980s, I’m obviously a big Transformers fan. Everyone who falls into that category is a big Transformers fan – it’s just the way it is.
When the first live action Transformers film came out, everyone I know loved it. And why wouldn’t they? It had Optimus Prime with his proper voice, looking great in a live action film. Sure, Megatron and Starscream didn’t have the correct voices, and you could barely tell the majority of the Autobots or Decepticons apart, but who cared? It was funny and it was cool – a true flashback to a 1980s childhood.
Indeed, filled up on nostalgia, I remember saying “That was the best film I’ve seen in years” when I left the cinema.
On second viewing a couple of years later, the first hour or so was still great, but the interminable last part of the film – the action sequence part – was boring the second time around. I think I even stopped watching it because it started to bore me that much.
A second Transformers film came out, and I never actually went to see it. Nobody had a good word to say about it.
And when the third film – Transformers: Dark of the Moon – came out last week, I didn’t think I’d bother, but it seemed to get better reviews. One person said it was ‘As good as the first’, the main review on IMDB suggested that even if you didn’t like the second one, this was a return to form, while someone on a forum legitimately listed it as one of their top 3 films of all time. So I decided – against my better judgement – to give it a shot.
What’s It About? (A few spoilers exist herein)
To be honest, it’s such a struggle to remember what this disjointed mess of a film is about that I’m not sure if I can do this coherently…
In spite of the plot of the original film, it turns out that the Transformers were known on Earth years earlier, because the 1960s Space Race was really a front for getting to the Moon to investigate a crashed Autobot Spaceship, which contained the former leader of the Autobots – Sentinal Prime.
And the Chernobyl Disaster was caused by the Russians experimenting with technology they found on the moon too, or something.
Well anyway, the Autobots go up to the Moon to recover and revive Sentinal Prime, but it turns out this was all part of a trap left by the Decepticons. They needed Optimus to use the Matrix to revive Sentinal, but really, Sentinal had previously struck a deal with Megatron before he crashed and now he has been revived he allies himself with the Decepticons and plans on using some weapon to transport Cybertron through space so it can feed off the energy of Earth. Or something.
And the Decepticons have also formed an alliance with Patrick Dempsey – owner of an Accountancy Firm – for reasons unexplained. I know…I don’t get it either.
Meanwhile, Sam (Shia LeBouef) is unemployed and looking for a job in these harsh economic times. Somehow this leads to him fighting side by side with the Autobots. Yeah…I kinda lost interest.
With the plot of the film exhausted by the 90 minute mark, the last 60 minutes of this film are taken up by a massive action sequence. That’s an hour long action sequence. What sort of director would have an HOUR LONG action sequence.
Thoughts – Plot, Action Sequences and Indistinguishable Transformers
If the film had ended at 90 minutes when they had run out of plot, then I might have come away from the film thinking that while it wasn’t any good, it still got bonus points for being about the Transformers. But any good will I had for this film
ended 25 minutes into the HOUR LONG action sequence.
Seriously, who wants to watch an HOUR LONG action sequence?
And what makes it worse is that once again no effort was put into attempting to distinguish the Transformers from one another. Yes, Optimus Prime is clearly Optimus Prime, Bumblebee stood out because he was yellow and referred to by name several times, and Laserbeak – while wildly different from the cartoon version – was distinguishable because he was a bird, but that was it.
Apparently, Starscream was in this film too. Well that came as news to me.
Oh, and some monster with tentacles is given the name Shockwave, which is an affront to any self respecting Transformers fan. Shockwave was purple, transformed into a gun and lived on Cybertron for fuck’s sake!!
So the lack of difference between the Transformers meant that what you got was an hour of silver things smashing into each other. I don’t know which Transformers lived or died. I actually thought Megatron – who I was sure had been killed off in the first film, but was actually living in the desert wearing a cloak (think about that – why would a robot wear a cloak? The mind boggles) – had been killed several times during the fight, but then I realised he wasn’t even involved in it. He was just sitting down somewhere watching the fight alongside McDreamy.
And Optimus Prime seemed to just disappear at the start of the fight, only to turn up 57 minutes into it to quickly finish it off.
What made matters worse was that having clearly planned the whole thing for at least decades (which negates everything that happened in previous Transformers films), at the point where victory is almost assured, Megatron is goaded into ruining everything he’s worked for and turning on Sentinal Prime by Shia Lebouef’s girlfriend insulting his pride with a line less ire-drawing than ‘Yo mama so fat’. She basically says ‘Do you think Sentinal Prime will let you lead? What are you, some kind of pilchard?’ and that leads to him getting off his chair and beheading Sentinal Prime.
Then he’s quickly killed off by Optimus Prime before Sentinal – who has his head reattached for reasons I can’t fathom – gets up and is also killed in under 10 seconds by Prime.
And that ended the film.
It didn’t make sense, but then story-telling isn’t Bay’s forte. To give you an example of why that is, there’s a 10-15 minute plot-line where Patrick Demspey attaches a Decepticon watch onto the wrist of Shia LeBouef. He is told that the watch means they can see everything he does and can control his nervous system, so if he doesn’t do what they want, they’ll kill his girlfriend. What do they want him to do? Find out if the Autobots (who have been forced to leave Earth on a rocket because of some threat made by the Decepticons to the military or something) have a plan that might stop them.
So LeBouef – against his will – goes undercover for the Decepticons. He lies to a few of his friends before going up to Optimus Prime before the rocket is set to launch and asks “So Optimus, between you and me, what’s the plan? I won’t tell any of the other humans”.
“Sam,” says Optimus, “there is no plan”.
And with that, apparently convinced, the Decepticon watch just leaves LeBouef’s wrist.
This film also contains some of the worst acting you are ever likely to see.
Yes, some of it is good. I enjoyed the performances of Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovic, Ken Jeoung (even though he was playing the same part with almost the same name as in Community, and it didn’t fit into the film whatsoever) and of course Peter Cullen, but apart from that…
Shia LeBouef is not a good actor. He’s a crap actor. A wooden actor. He’s completely unable to act the ‘tough guy’ that he – or possibly Hollywood – thinks he can. He’s just…well…crap.
Then there’s the bloke who wants to be Al Pacino; imdb tells me his name of John Turturro and laughably describes him as a ‘Highly Talented’ actor. Well, if he’s highly talented then he must have just been taking the piss in this film. He was embarrassing.
There were also some non-descript ‘handsome soldier’ types that brought so little to the film that I can’t think of anything scathing to write about them.
But who I can write something scathing about is ‘actress’ Rosie Huntington-Whitely, who plays the female lead in the film – Sam’s girlfriend. I say this without trying to be deliberately negative, but Whitely could be one of the worst actresses the world has ever seen. I’m sure there may have been a worse actress with a small parts in an episode of Never the Twain or something like that, but this is the female lead of a supposed ‘Blockbuster’ movie. She was beyond awful.
For a start, she spoke in the US Cinema ‘English Accent’. You know the one I’m talking about – the incredibly posh ‘How do you do’ English accent that is only ever heard in US cinema or TV. In truth, nobody really speaks like that as far as I know. I’ve never met anyone with that accent, and if I did, I doubt they’d come from her home town of Plymouth.
Beyond that it’s just difficult to describe her incompetence. Delivery, expression, body language…none of it was good. She looked, sounded and acted uncomfortably.
No, RHW is not good at her job. But in fairness to her, she’s not an actress, she’s an underwear model. She has never acted in anything before this, and yet is given the task of being the female lead of a massively expensive film. Hmmm, maybe Michael Bay should get a job in charge of hiring ‘Divas’ in WWE.
Yes, she’s a nice looking woman, but being attractive is not enough. It’s just not. I read a comment that she ‘plumbs further depths in terms of the worst acting turn in human history’ and the sad thing is, it’s true.
Oh, and the guy from 24 is in it playing a military character again. He doesn’t even get any lines, but he is in it.
Who is This Film Aimed At?
While watching the film I questioned who the target audience is. I would assume it’s my demographic – the late 20s/early 30s crowd who watched the show growing up. As far as I know there aren’t any Transformers cartoons made anymore, the comics have long since stopped and the toys just hang about waiting to be bought by people who still collect them or want to give them to their children.
Certainly I don’t think it’s aimed at kids. If it is, then I question the morality of the scene where John Malkovich thinks Shia LeBouef has given Ken Jeong a blow-job in a toilet stall.
But assuming it is aimed at people my age, why do they not just go the whole hog and get it so that it actually resembles the kids show from the 80s. Why is Megatron not voiced by Frank Welker? Why isn’t Starscream a prick? Why do the likes of Shockwave, Ironhide et al look nothing like the cartoons and yet Optimus Prime does? Why – if you’ve hired Leonard Nimoy and Megatron is supposed to be dead – do you not just have him as Galvatron? Where is Hot Rod or the Dinobots?
And how can they not see that the best bits of the first film were the humorous bits and not the interminable ‘action sequences’?
I fear that these questions will never be answered, and worse still, I doubt Michael Bay would feel the need to answer them because the film will inevitably make so much money that none of the points I’ve made will make the slightest bit of difference.
Should You Go And See Transformers: Dark of the Moon?
I cannot understand how people can say they like this sort of thing? If this film came out in, say, 1955 then people would be amazed at the visuals and would ignore the lack of plot or acting. But it’s 2011. We’ve seen bright and shiny action
sequences before (in fact, the film blatantly steals previously used effects from older films like The Island and Pearl Harbour) so for some of us, that no longer proves interesting.
Obviously to some people – such as the guy who listed it among the top three films he’s ever seen – it is enough. But I remember walking behind two people who were chatting about how Van Wilder: Party Liason was the funniest film they’ve ever seen, so I appreciate that there’s no accounting for taste. If that’s your type of thing, then you’re entitled to like it. That’s how the Fast & The Furious franchise exists.
But as far as I’m concerned, even as a 1980s Transformers fanboy, this film is terrible.
The most entertaining thing about the whole experience was finding out my friend, who had come to see it with me and enjoyed it almost as little as I did, has already paid £18 for a ticket to see it again in the IMAX in a couple of weeks time.
What a mug.