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Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

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It’s that time of year again: summer. It’s hot outside, and cookouts with fireworks are just around the corner, so it’s only natural that American cinemas should be filled with explosions. When it comes to blowing things up, nothing in recent memory tops the display of the “Transformers” movies. The third film in the franchise, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” hits multiplexes across the nation just in time for all the explosions one could possibly want.

The plot to “Dark of the Moon” is pretty standard fare for the franchise. It is revealed in the opening credits that there is evidence of robotic life located on the dark side of planet Earth’s moon, which was the real reason for the countless trips to the moon by the United States and Russia. This life is now threatening the peace on Earth that is being given by the Autobots led by Optimus Prime. It appears the Decepticons, led by Megatron and Shockwave, are still out to conquer Earth.

As you might expect, the plot is even more convoluted and inconsequential than the aforementioned paragraph. The bottom-line is that it’s yet another battle for Earth between the Autobots and the Decepticons, with American governmental forces, along with our hero Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) will try to help, but mostly just get in the way. But you didn’t come for the plot; you came for the fireworks, right? Let’s hope so, because there are plenty to be seen.

There are several bits of good news regarding “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”. The first is that while it does not equal the original, it is miles ahead of the last installment in the franchise, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”. While that film was a rusted, metal mess of a movie, “Dark of the Moon” at least contains a logical plot. Also, the effects in the film are some of the best you will ever see. If you are able to see this movie in IMAX, I would highly recommend it. “Dark of the Moon” contains the best use of live action 3D to date. The last hour of the film is a singular battle scene of epic proportions, and within it there are four or five action sets that, when viewed in 3D, are worth the price of admission.

The acting in “Dark of the Moon” is also better than the previous films. New to the franchise are John Malkovich as Sam’s crazy boss, Patrick Dempsey and the hilarious Ken Jeong. All three of these additions give the movie some legitimately funny moments, and it’s important for a movie like this to not take itself too seriously. Also new to the cast is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly, Sam’s new love interest. After Megan Fox backed out of the project right before filming, director Bay chose model Whiteley to replace her as the talentless, yet attractive, female lead.

Unfortunately, while it’s better and funnier than “Revenge of the Fallen”, “Dark of the Moon” still has issues. Even though the effects are great, it all becomes numbing after a while. The film clocks in at over two and a half hours, which is far too long. The script is also terrible, filled with some of the worst dialogue you’ll ever hear (“Retirement is whack”). Director Bay insists on treating the audience like they’re imbeciles by doing things like explicitly telling them that a nuclear weapons manufacturing site in the Middle East is “illegal”. The U.S. – Autobot alliance now busies itself by dispatching black-ops military teams around the world to assist in solving human problems by blowing up an Iranian nuclear power plant, with “the world” being represented onscreen by “the Middle-East”, and “human problems” taking the form of an “illegal nuclear site” in the Middle-East, Iran. Nowhere in the movie they say the word “Iran” but they do show the Iranian flag on the Defense Minister’s car which is in fact an Autobot infiltrator.

This fine piece of propaganda shouldn’t shock anyone because according to UFODigest.com, the Pentagon had a say in this movie:

If you hadn’t guessed, Dark of the Moon “benefitted” from the full cooperation of the U.S. Department of Defence. This means that, in exchange for the free use of U.S. troops and expensive military hardware – including jets, tanks, helicopters, and even sensitive military bases – in line with its standard operating procedure, the Pentagon’s entertainment liaison office contractually is granted considerable control over a movie’s content, from start to finish. This contractual control even extends to Pentagon staffers writing dialogue for a movie and advising on how its narrative should develop. Wonderful for the Pentagon – which walks away with a supremely glossy piece of Hollywood propaganda – less so for the cinema-going public, most of whom are blissfully unaware that the seemingly innocent piece of fluff they are watching in fact is an officially sponsored military recruitment campaign, carefully constructed to bolster the U.S. military image and, simultaneously, to manipulate public perception of hot-button national security issues – not least of all in this case, the UFO phenomenon.

Michael Bay has a formula that he sticks with for each and every “Transformers” film. The following could be a spoiler, but should not be to anyone who has seen the previous two installments of the franchise. It is inevitable that the last hour of every “Transformers” movie will play out something like this: Sam needs to save the girl, the Decepticons have captured or injured Optimus and Bumble Bee, all hope is lost, and the Autobots prevail amidst a sea of destruction that seems to destroy everything, except all of the principal leads of the film. It’s understandable that the audience expects certain things from a “Transformers” film, but would it kill them to at least mix it up a little bit?

From a content perspective, the third installment is on par with the previous two “Transformers” films. Carly is seen in various revealing outfits, including just her underwear. There is some sexual dialogue scattered throughout the film. The foul language is not gratuitous, but constantly used, with a mouthed “F” word and over 10 uses of the God’s name in vain. Violence is obviously present from start to finish, but there is very little blood or realistic peril.

If summertime means mindless action movies to you, then “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” may be your movie. Its eye-popping IMAX 3D experience is certainly a sight to behold. It does not, however, do anything to improve upon the first “Transformers,” nor does it distinguish itself as anything more than predictable from start to finish. Simply put, fans of the series won’t want to miss this one, but most everyone else will.


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