I am disappointed in you, Michael Bay.
I turned up at the Transformers: Dark of the Moon preview screening fresh off seeing the second Transformers movie, ready to trash this third incarnation of the Hasbro mechs.
Sadly, where Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen required me to get up and do something else for two hours to alleviate the boredom, Transformers: Dark of the Moon kept me in my seat for the whole time.
This film is a guilty pleasure.
It’s by no means a miracle of filmmaking. Even after a few days mulling over my experience, it has faded quickly. Bay has taken the almost unanimous hate for the second film on board, realised he was a man for cheesy comedy, overdone action scenes and spray-tanned beauties, and refined his formula to a bearable and fun level.
Firstly, he got rid of Megan Fox, who apart from joining the hate brigade was also contributing nothing of substance, and replaced her with a Victoria’s Secret model. Unfortunately she also contributes nothing.
The opening of Transformers: Dark of the Moon concerns some Moon cover-up and a montage that interweaves JFK with stand-ins and a silly macguffin of a crashed spaceship with secret Transformer tech on it.
The real Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong make a surprise cameo but with Optimus Prime in the background it only heightens the absurdity of it all. It’s a sluggish opening, but thankfully this exposition-laiden section ends not long into the movie.
Then there’s the supporting actors. Michael Bay cleared his deck and replaced all the over-the-top military folk with actors that are noteworthy. First is Frances McDormand of Fargo, who as the head of the plays her role with the right level of semi-seriousness.
Next is John Malkovich, Sam Whit-wicky’s (Shia Lebouf) boss, in what is my favourite scene of the film. Sam’s out job-hunting, and Malkovich’s character hires him in a giant corporation for what seems like pushing trolleys of rolled paper around. Malkovich plays his one big scene with gusto, kicking someone out of the place for having a red coffee mug which, to him, is a ‘visual and visceral betrayal’.
The ex-Agent Seymour Simmons from Section 7 returns, with slightly better acting. He even gets a chance to attempt selling a new conspiracy theory book to a raging Bill O’Reilly. He brings back a little of the overdone cheese from the second, but I can live with that.
The fight scenes are better planned and there’s less of the interchangeable metal messes from the previous iteration. A sequence in a falling building that stretches out for a preposterous amount of time is quite thrilling, as improbable as it is. Though in this one, with a city in ruins, there’s more shooting, fluid fighting and less of the hideous slow-motion.
There is one particular shot near the end, however, which had me laughing for a good five minutes. The Victoria’s Secret model, as she stares with a vacuous mouth open at something (Michael Bay hasn’t the directing skill to show what) for an eternity in slow-motion, as a car flips meaninglessly behind her. It is the strangest and best unintentionally hilarious piece of cinema I’ve seen all year.
The Transformers themselves have had a little makeover, and their respective colour palettes seem brighter than before, so they are easily distinguishable. I still don’t understand why they got Hugo Weaving to voice Megatron and then filtered it into an unrecognizable mess of machinery.
If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve not discussed the plot too much, not for spoilers’ sake, but because it is just as ridiculous as the previous two. And my compliments to the script editor on this, because they’ve kept the story going along at a reasonably quick pace, and included given that are actually funny.
Perhaps I was lulled into a false sense that this movie was better than it was, on account of having a sugar rush from a large Coke. Nevertheless, I survived, and had a little bit of fun too.
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