Transformers: Dark Of The Moon - Cinema Review

'best surmised by a scene late on where Huntington-Whiteley is framed in near still-shot as all sorts of chaos and explosions discover the joys of combustion behind her. Don't mind the actors Michael, just make sure there's a good quota of things blowing up'

Before Michael Bay indulges in what is becoming an increasingly infamous 'ass shot' (Bay's camera lurks behind franchise newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's stair climbing, like a flasher lurking behind a bush) Transformers: Dark Of The Moon spends an effective twenty-minutes or so setting up the events of this third outing in the series. Archive footage of the 1969 moon landings is mixed to good effect with a conspiracy theorist-baiting setup that has Buzz Aldrin (Cory Tucker) and Neil Armstrong (Don Jeanes) discovering a crashed Autobot ship on the, erm... dark side of the moon. It's goosepimple-inducing in its effectiveness and it initially looks like a good idea to revitalise a franchise that looked like it had stalled with Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen.

Then there's the ass shot. Then Huntington-Whiteley speaks. Then two comedy sidekicks emerge. Then Sam's (Shia LaBeouf) parents turn up. We're back in familiar territory again and that familiar territory belongs to the poorly acted, poorly scripted first sequel which, sadly, Dark Of The Moon has too much in common with.

Bay's well-publicised directorial problem is that, for all his action skills, he just can't direct quiet scenes between people. Worse than that though, Ehren Kruger appears not to be able to write them. It's notable that Kruger has scripted the last two Transformers films meaning that the only one that was any good had nothing to do with him. I seriously doubt that that is a coincidence. Clich├ęd dialogue runs rampant, scenes which aren't meant to be awkward come across as such, scenes which are meant to be awkward (the obligatory parental chat) come across as annoying. That said, when the actors do get chance to say something meaningful they infrequently mess it up. Huntington-Whiteley is, at best, wooden and at worst abysmal and because of that there's no chemistry between her and LaBeouf, rendering a crucial aspect to the predictable narrative redundant. It's a cacophony of laziness and poor understanding of narrative cinema, best surmised by a scene late on where Huntington-Whiteley is framed in near still-shot as all sorts of chaos and explosions discover the joys of combustion behind her. Don't mind the actors Michael, just make sure there's a good quota of things blowing up.

The things blowing up reach a head in the final hour where an epic battle in Chicago shows Cloverfield just how traverses across lopsided buildings should be done and a group of base jumping special forces employees manage to find some beauty in amongst all the ridiculousness. Still, it is the epitome of too much, too late: it is not enough to forget the mountains of guff experienced up till this point including various plot holes (where does John Malkovich go?), various characters we don't give a hoot about and more screen time in the company of several very annoying and poorly voiced robots than anyone should have to endure.




Look further...

'We see close-ups of character's faces but they seem devoid of any emotional connection. Conversations feel clumsy and nobody resembles a human. Some ignore this based on a bizarre ideal that you should pay full price for nearly half a movie, especially if it's in 3D IMAX' - The Afrofilmviewer

9 comments:

  1. Absolutely spot on review of this movie!! It lost me once that up the arse shot came on screen and I couldn't really be bothered with it from there on in. You are right Michael Bay cannot direct actors. I think this movie is a good example because all the actors bar McDormand were absolutely terrible especially leBeouf who was just cringe worthy.
    I'm afaridd this is just another example of the factory line that is mainstream Hollywood today. I've just seen the latest Harry Potter movie and I felt completely jaded by it as it could just as well have been Transformers/Green Lantern/ and all the myriad of CGI movies we have been bombarded with week in week out.

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  2. Sad to hear HP7.2 didn't live up to your expectations but yes, agree with a lot of what you said about this. When you can't direct John Malkovich to just do his schtick (which is inherently funny, just... not here) then you've got a problem. McDormand was decent and I actually think that if he stopped starring in rom coms Josh Duhamel could be a decent action star but here he gets a sum total of about ten lines. Lame. A far cry from the first film, which I still think is rather good fun.

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  3. I agree that the first was a good movie and I give it kudos because they are well earned!
    Yeah HP2 didn't do it for me. You'll have to read my review as to why. It's the CGI more than anything else. All through out it certain scenes made me think of other movies.
    Like T3 the building being cut in half is straight from the awful Cloverfield and several scenes in HP2 felt lifted from other movies.

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  4. Off to see it on Monday so will give it a look afterwards.

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  5. I didn't care for this movie at all.
    The action scenes and the climatic battle just seemed too rushed, the characters flat and lifeless and confusing (what the hell was the motivation of the John Malkovich's character?), and I found the inclusion of the actual Buzz Aldrin to be in bad taste for what he has achieved in his lifetime (but, ultimately, I concede that it was his own choice to star in the movie).
    I would happily award this abomination 1 out of 5 stars: my eyes felt like I had headbutted a landmine after I left the cinema...
    But I am off to see HP7.2 this morning at 11am with my girlfriend, so I shall report back later on how I found it...

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  6. I can see the argument for 1/5 but I really did quite like the fake Moon Landing bits from the prologue. Thought they invoked the conspiracy theorists very well. Agree with all your criticisms though, Malkovich especially. Hope you enjoy HP7.2!

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  7. I enjoyed it more, but only enough to give it another half star or so than you did. I just pretended it was not a Michael Bay film, kicked back and watched the stunning special effects. By no means was the movie good, but I had fun with it! And as a side note, I did not like the first two.

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  8. It’s an improvement over the second one, which isn’t saying much, but still is a very fun blockbuster filled with action, destruction, romance, robots, and Michael Bay once again letting loose on all the special effects and action there is to let loose. Good Review!

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  9. Matt - Interesting that you didn't like the first two. I rewatched the first one fairly recently and I think it holds up as a fun blockbuster. Definitely won't be returning to the second one though, which was awful.

    Dan - Agree it is better than two but only marginally. Still thought this had a lot of the same problems, most notably the middle section, which in both this and two is pretty damn boring.

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