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“Transformer: Dark of the Moon” = please no more “Transformers” movies

Posted on July 8th, 2011
Posted on July 8th, 2011

The simplest plot description I can manage from this whole mess: NASA actually went to the moon in 1969 to investigate a crashed ship only to discover Soviet cosmonauts had beaten them to it. The artifact the Soviets bring back eventually causes the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl and has the power to bring all enemy robots (Decepticons) to Earth. The technology falls into the wrong hands and the heroic Autobots must team up with the humans once again to thwart a massive invasion of evil alien robots.

This is the most mindless and loosely-plotted story in the franchise so far. Characters are reunited under the flimsiest of circumstances and hardly any of their actions yield significance when facing an invading alien force. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBouf, in his most insufferable role to date) spends the first half of the movie trying to land an office job. He gets jealous and flies off the handle at his new British supermodel girlfriend because she has a cool boss, a nice car and makes way more money than he does. When he’s not screaming at her, he’s screaming about something else. Does this make him the most unlikable protagonist of the year? You bet it does.

The real stars of the film, the Autobots, are strangely absent throughout most of the story. It would appear the writers forgot to include them into most of the action. When they do appear, it’s mostly in car form and when a few die, it’s hard to care. Director Michael Bay still managed to add unneeded elements to insult the intelligence of his audience. He ditched the two racial stereotype robots from the last film and oddly added a few more, one of which was small New York/Italian-sounding robot who accounted for most of the swearing in the film.

Michael Bay seems immune to criticism as the majority of reviews tear his films to ribbons. His stories are paper thin and his style is predictable. He can’t seem to offer anything new to Hollywood other than try to make sure the special effects of his next film outdoes the previous one. Worst of all, he never seems to learn from his mistakes… mistakes he obviously refuses the existence of as his paychecks continue to swell. He should try to make a small independent film to see if he can resist relying on speed-ramping effects and racist robot caricatures.

People, including myself, go to these movies not for character or story depth, but to see things get blown up. In this movie, Chicago blows up nicely but the same problems plaguing the previous films remain. Robot combat still looks confusing and chaotic, like blurry rolling balls of metal crashing into buildings. The lead humans survive deadly falls and crashes without a scrape. Motivations are meaningless and only serve to shuttle the characters from one action sequence to the next, etc…

One very big difference between this sequel and the previous films is how it brings collateral damage to the forefront. While the other films shied away from showing human death, this one brazenly shows giant robots hunting down and executing humans with extreme prejudice, as well as charred human remains in the aftermath of carnage. While ignoring collateral damage in the first two films could be considered an insulting inaccuracy or a way of sparing the horrors of death to pre-teens, this movie shockingly swerves in the opposite direction. If the other films had gone this route, I wouldn’t have mentioned it as most kids have seen far worse in a PG-13 movie, but this was inconsistent and jarring. Cute little Italian-American robots cussing in the middle of a terminator-like genocide doesn’t work on any level. Bay needs to stop trying to play both sides of the fence. Choose a tone and stick with it. Or maybe he should do us all a favor and retire early.

Another issue about this film is the omission of Megan Fox’s character Mikaela. I didn’t miss her. Her character was useless and her English-accented replacement fared no better. What’s interesting is how Fox was fired from the franchise by producer Steven Spielberg for an off-the-cuff remark she made in an interview. She foolishly compared the behavior of Michael Bay on the set to that of a Nazi barking orders. While Bay didn’t take it too harshly, Spielberg demanded her immediate exit. Some critics speculate this will kill Fox’s film career. If it does, I doubt I’ll lose a wink of sleep.

Avoid this film unless your kids drag you to it. As for me, I’ll never pay money for another “Transformers” movie ever again.

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

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