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I Belong

Movie Review: Transformers ~ Dark of the Moon

Title: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Director: Michael Bay

Producer: Steven Spielberg and Don Murphy

Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction

Distributor: Paramount

Series: Transformers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Release Date: June 29, 2011

Format: Standard

Runtime: 157 Minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, and Ken Jeong

Synopsis (Product Description):

The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, are back in action, taking on the evil Decepticons, who are determined to avenge their defeat in 2009’s Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. In this new movie, the Autobots and Decepticons become involved in a perilous space race between the U.S. and Russia, and once again human Sam Witwicky has to come to the aid of his robot friends. There’s new characters too, including a new villain in the form of Shockwave, a longtime “Transformers” character who rules Cybertron while the Autobots and Decepticons battle it out on Earth.

The Review:

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the latest and final installment of the film series based on the 1980s line of Hasbro toys that spawned the popular cartoon series and cult animated film. Michael Bay is in full effect here, surpassing the prior live action films in terms of storytelling and explosions—lots and lots of explosions. The first Transformers film was decent, but the follow-up, Revenge of the Fallen was an awful mess. Fortunately, Dark of the Moon makes up for its predecessor with better pacing, excellent fan service, some comic relief, a very clever set up and amazing action sequences.

Shia LaBeouf reprises his role, but Megan Foxx is nowhere to be found, replaced by the equally arresting Rosie Huntington-Whitely.  But more importantly, Optimus Prime, voiced by Peter Cullen, is back. Let’s face it; every human is a bit player standing next to a 20 foot tall robot, who looms even larger in the minds of those of us who watched the cartoons in the 80s.  The Autobots and Decepticons are examples of computer generated actors that routinely upstage their human costars thanks to the wizardry of Industrial Light and Magic. Serious fans of Transformers that recall the original animated movie will recognize the voice talent of Leonard Nimoy, who is the voice of Galvatron from the original animated movie. Look out for the clever reference to another Nimoy character early in the film that foreshadows one of Dark of the Moon’s awesome twists.

The premise of Dark of the Moon is that the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union was a cover to retrieve autobot technology that crash-landed on the moon. Control of that technology will determine not only the victor in the ongoing war between the Autobots and Decepticons, but the fate of mankind as well. Corny? Perhaps, but if I didn’t know better, the production values of Dark of the Moon suggest Michael Bay rented the Space Shuttle Columbia and sent a film crew to film huge chunks of the movie in space. The FX are impeccably done with only one scene early on that looks (forgivably) fake.

At the end of the day, Dark of the Moon is a bombastic action film that is competently written. It succeeds primarily on the strength of its special effects and benefits from favorable comparison to the inferior Revenge of the Fallen which preceded it. The movie is for the most part lighthearted, but in the final act it shifts tone and becomes much darker. It becomes surprisingly violent and pushes the boundaries of its PG-13 rating. Oddly, robot on robot violence seems to give the film makers license to amp up the carnage. The robots are so lifelike that there’s an eerie human quality to their very violent clashes that I found a bit jarring. The violence was also in stark contrast to the films earlier, often comedic moments. If you enjoyed the two prior films then you will enjoy Dark of the Moon which does homage to the spirit of the Transformers in explosive Michael Bay fashion.

FTC Advisory: We purchased our own tickets.

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One Response to “Movie Review: Transformers ~ Dark of the Moon

  1. Rain maidenNo Gravatar

    So this is the last Tranformers movie.? My son watched it on Monday and enjoyed it more then the second film. He kept asking me if I knew the status on a fourth movie. Thanks for the review, I will have to look out for Spock’s voice.

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