Thursday, June 30, 2011


There is a moment in DARK OF THE MOON, the now third installment in the action-figure based TRANSFORMERS films, that lets viewers know that they are getting the serious robot-war movie that they have been waiting for; when the rusted and disfigured Megatron blows up the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial and sits in his chair. It is one of many ballsy scenes that delivers a message; there will be little to no pussyfooting around this time. That scene sets a serious tone and the eventual stage for the most massive action/war spectacle ever to grace a movie screen.

In a rewrite of history, President John F. Kennedy initiates the space race in the 1960’s after astronomers discover a crashed spacecraft on the Moon. The craft carries important Autobot technology, and the dormant body of Sentinel Prime (voiced brilliantly by Leonard Nimoy). Flash-forward to modern times, where Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is now out of college and struggling with his mundane office-job/life when he’d rather be out kicking metal arse with his Autobot friends. Sam stumbles upon a Decepticon plot, who through a series of double-crosses and shocking betrayals, plan to capture the Autobot technology and unleash a deadly invasion of Earth.

Where the second film was bogged down with an overburdened plot, MOON sheds a lot of that and just goes for the jugular in the form of a straight-up alien invasion film. The one thing that director Michael Bay is good at (besides blowing shit up) is putting his characters in deadly situations and making them claw their way out, and in MOON he lets the massive, looming threat drive the story. The way the humans and Autobots react to the pending doom is what drives things, and it drives it well. The story, while simple, works because the threat is real; when the Decepticons aren’t employing humans to their cause, they are slaughtering women and children in their own homes.

With this film being shot for (goddamn) 3D, Bay was forced to alter his directing and editing style; shaky-cams and whip-pans are gone, leaving a more steady landscape for his mayhem. There is a better sense of geography and perspective, and the giant fighting robots have plenty of battlefield to bash each other.

And when that bashing comes, hold on to your potatoes. The city of Chicago is blasted to smithereens, and that’s even before the real fight begins. It is a full 60 minutes of killer CGI combined with practical stunts and effects that are as jaw-dropping as they are convincing; there are a few building-collapse sequences that will bring flashbacks to any 9/11 survivors. Nothing like this has ever been seen before on a movie screen.

Characterization of the robots is a marked improvement over both preceding films. Optimus Prime (once again voiced brilliantly by Peter Cullen), gets to really flex his muscle here, and is actually given a decent storyline to deal with. The Autobots are felt for this time, and there a couple of scenes with Bumblebee that will have plenty of hearts pounding.

Bay can’t help but to pull a Tarantino and inject a lot of himself into the film. Juvenile humor, sexy women, and his love for a mighty and willful U.S. military are prevalent throughout. The humor works in some places, and doesn’t in many others.

LaBeouf does the most acting and really seems to have a hold on his character. In her first movie role, Rosie Huntinton-Whiteley, Sam’s girlfriend, is fine in some scenes, but stiff in others. John Turturro is magnificent as always, and bit parts by Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, and Patrick Dempsey are all handled fine.

MOON clocks in at over two hours, but doesn’t really drag and is aided by the massive action. It could have benefitted by a small diet; certain comedy routines and excess characters could have been done away with, but that doesn’t stop this from being the best damn thing to ever have a TRANSFORMERS title on it. This is the sci-fi war film that franchises like TERMINATOR, PREDATOR, and ALIENS have been trying to make for 20 years.


1 comment:

  1. Ohhh we saw it and LOVED it. Fab movie and Fab review :)


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