One historical space race, one resurrected Prime, two less racist robots, one dissed Megan Fox and millions of dollars worth of property damage and TRANSFORMERS 3: DARK OF THE MOON is in the books. Michael Bay may not have fully learned his lesson from REVENGE OF THE FALLEN but the third entry to his TRANSFORMERS franchise is still an improvement over the second. DARK OF THE MOON is an impressive visual spectacle that dips a few too many times in its overused and lackluster comedic bag of tricks.
In DARK OF THE MOON, Optimus Prime is none too pleased about the fact that the humans have hid their knowledge of a crashed Autobot ship on the moon during the historic space race. The ship contained technology that would have been vital to the survival of Cybertron, but instead the Decepticons have devised a scheme that utilizes the technology to beam the planet to Earth and enslave the human race. Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and his new babe, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), are caught in the trenches as the Autobots fight to save humanity from the evil Decepticons.
Also along for the ride this time around is Grey’s Anatomy star, Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey plays the exceedingly rich boss of Huntington-Whiteley’s character who also appears to be trying to move in on LaBeouf’s new flame. Megan Fox’s replacement neither harmed nor elevated the proceedings here. Huntington-Whiteley is not a great actress, but she is hardly the downfall of the film; she is a Victoria’s Secret model though and they make sure to point out her key ASSets the moment she appears on screen. Shia LaBeouf gives the same performance he’s given in the first two films and John Turturro is even more over the top than in the first two. John Malkovich just looks strange in Transformers 3 and turns in a cringe worthy moment in which he attempts to play with Bumblebee as if he’s a very large puppy and Ken Jeong also appears wielding more of his signature comedy with extremely goofy Michael Bay-isms.
Gone are the racist robots from REVENGE OF THE FALLEN but replaced with different more subdued stereotypes in a variety of different Autobots. Nothing that is quite as offensive as in REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, but it still seems like Bay just can’t function without exaggerated stereotypes in his characters, both human and robot alike. The quirky hit and miss humor from REVENGE OF THE FALLEN is still present, but a little more tolerable this time around; nothing near as ridiculous as the swinging wrecking ball testicles from Devastator in FALLEN or Megan Fox leg humping. The runtime is extremely hefty once again; clocking in at just over two and a half hours, but far more entertaining and fun than FALLEN was.
The TRANSFORMERS series is somewhat of a guilty pleasure of mine; I haven’t completely loved each film as a whole but have been extremely taken with the use of CGI. REVENGE OF THE FALLEN has some hiccups here and there, but the forest battle was pretty awesome, but the action in DARK OF THE MOON eclipses everything from the first two films. The first hour and a half has much more of the drama and comedy that’s weaved throughout with small bits of action thrown in, where as the final hour or so is very much action packed. The price of admission is completely justified for me in a moneyshot of a scene involving a snakelike Decepticon that is commanded by Shockwave that wraps itself around a glass skyscraper in order to make it collapse with Sam, Carly and some soldiers on the inside. With the quality of the action present in DARK OF THE MOON it makes the bloated runtime much easier to endure than it was in REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.
While the skyscraper scene easily stands as my favorite moment and visual in the entire TRANSFORMERS series, the film is filled to the brim with spectacular special effects. Along with top of the line CGI there are some very cool stunts by the human characters as well that include a high altitude dive from military aircrafts that are under attack, characters sliding down the glass of a falling building and parachuting from the roof of buildings while chaos is happening all around. Action is something that Michael Bay has been able to do very well in my opinion and Transformers 3 really does have some impressive action sequences.
The weaknesses in DARK OF THE MOON are usually in moments where little to no action is going on or there are no special effects on screen. A considerable percentage of both this film and REVENGE OF THE FALLEN feel more like cinematic advertising for products such as Cisco, any car manufacturer and now Victoria’s Secret. Ken Jeong and John Malkovich serve as nothing but comic relief and are nothing more than caricatures. More than that, they are caricatures of caricatures. The scripts in the TRANSFORMERS movies have never been their strong suit and while that’s still the case here, it’s still better than its predecessor. There was also some editing gaffes that confused me towards the end where one second Bumblebee is rescuing Josh Duhamel and Shia LaBeouf from falling, the next LaBeouf and Duhamel are in two completely different places and Bumblebee has suddenly been captured and the audience has no idea how or when this happened. Other than that, the action is staged and executed in grand fashion.
Overall, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is exactly what I wanted out of a summer blockbuster. However, it had a little too much of the odd goofy humor that turned me off to REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. DARK OF THE MOON is pure popcorn entertainment that delivers on spectacular special effects and striking action sequences. It won’t blow you away with its wit or scene stealing dialogue, but the CGI work is really something to behold. If you’re expecting anything more than a dumb action movie then you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you go in just looking to have some fun watching giant robots blowing up anything and everything in sight and can look passed some of its flaws you will have a great time.