I remember back in 2006 when we saw the first pictures from Transformers and there was an immense outrage over Optimus Prime having a vehicle mode with flames. Shortly after the hate storm which emerged, Michael Bay came out and said something along the lines that this was his movie so if he wanted flames on Optimus Prime than there would be flames. Following that, I always considered the movies as ‘anything goes’ which helped to dismiss the weird or embarrassing moments in the first movie, like Bumblebee peeing on John Turturro or Jazz’s strangely hostile behavior. The movie was Bay’s creature and overall I still enjoyed it despite it having something as silly as a 30 foot tall robot bracing himself underneath a bridge to hide from his human pursuers. I mean, this was a movie based on the banged-up toys I’d had when I was practically too young to have memories so even working at all was a pretty big accomplishment.

We’ve come a long way since then; after the relatively well received first film we got Revenge of the Fallen which set brave new milestones in audience displeasure. RotF was basically the movie I was always expecting when they announced they’d be making Transformers films, but with a healthy dose of genuine weirdness to go with all the failures in storytelling and entertainment value they made. It’s a perilous track making a movie where special effects are meant to be major characters and with the second trip they had more than a few things derail.

Now we have Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which is somewhere between the first and second film in its quality. The lack of clarity in the editing and plot is still there, but the action is irrefutably amazing when you can actually tell what’s happening onscreen. This movie is like watching an adventure a little kid would dream up for his toys but with all the adult elements they would overlook cranked up past the furthest threshold PG-13 can manage. We fly through the first hour or so to create some setup for the chaos that follows, cutting from Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky going on a hapless quest for a job to scenes of the Autobots tearing up some random enemy base in generic hostile territories. The fact that Sam’s search for a job is more involving and logical than anything that seems to happen in the initial action sequences is bizarre but that’s not important. This isn’t a movie where you wonder about how or why Shockwave was at Chernobyl; he’s there and he’s meant to be noticed since they bother to have dialogue telling you his name.

The parts of the other movies that people enjoy despising are back, including Sam’s parents, Wheelie, the ‘inaccurate portrayals’ of some of the characters and LaBeouf’s frantic behavior. The weird fart jokes are gone though and some effort was made to remedy the stereotypes present in the last movie: the Wreckers are blatantly designed to look like Redneck caricatures but they all speak with Scottish accents. To give you an idea of how late in the process they changed their voices, one of them has actually has the Cybertronian equivalent of a mullet as part of his design.

So the scenes of one really gorgeous looking relationship movie interlock with the robots fighting for the first third, then, around the 70 minute mark or so the action kicks into high gear and doesn’t let up until the 5 seconds before the credits roll. There are a few cool plot twists, a laugh here or there, plenty of thrills and one really amazing stunt to be had over the 2 hours+ runtime. It holds your attention for the most part and despite many of the reviews already zooming in on Rosie Huntington-Whitely as being awful in the movie, she’s actually not bad. Her character is really sweet and kind for the few moments she’s not being eye candy, and actually manages to look frightened in the times she’s imperiled contrasted to the veiled disinterest Megan Fox always managed to exude. Patrick Dempsey makes a pretty good impression and John Malkovich is uncomfortably funny in his few scenes as well. Frances McDormand gets to stand around and be uncompromising but her scenes with John Turturro have their own weird charm. All the supporting cast knows they’re game and have no problem with carrying out the broadest performances, so not to be overshadowed by their SFX co-stars.

Strangely though, not many of the new robot characters make a huge impression, excusing Sentinel Prime. Rather, we have Optimus Prime and Bumblebee returning to carry the majority of the interactions with the humans with a few extremely brief asides from Wheelie, the Wreckers and some weird version of Wheeljack. With that in mind, Optimus is completely over-the-top psychotic this time around and that will likely annoy people wanting the noble hero we’re used to from all the other interpretations of the character. Still, I couldn’t help but laugh when he says “We will kill them all” as that’s pretty much the purest breakdown of what these movies are: totally insane. The noble aspect of the character was thrown out when he ripped the Fallen’s face off and this movie never bothers to look back. One of his responses when confronting Megatron may make up the most awesomely ridiculous set of lines in an action movie for years to come. The Decepticons get to look appropriately menacing in their few brief moments of focus though they lend a lot of credence to the subtitles in the first movie when a lot of characters spoke Cybertronian; all the robot characters talk with such urgency and exaggeration they’re often incomprehensible. The two Primes and Megatron get most of the time the movie can spare for the robots to stop fighting long enough to talk but expecting anything more is at a cross purpose with what this movie is meant to be: action, action and more action. The most ambitious it gets is in trying to be the best possible interpretation of the violent explosion you achieve when you cross-pollinate the innocent aggression of a child at play with the distilled fantasies of a teenager obsessed with cars, girls and guns.

This movie is dumb. That’s ok, as it was never meant to be a deep greek parable-masterwork on humanity’s difficulty with striking the delicate balance between acceptance and fear of an alien race arriving on our planet. It’s meant to show how awesome giant robots beating each other up amidst a torrent of explosions can be and it does that pretty well. There’s far less bizarre behavior from the characters here and solid focus where it should be: the action. Yeah, it’s shallow as all get out and the highly touted 3D elements just go to prove how little that technology matters, but it does what it sets out to do. I can’t really recommend it as it’s nowhere near a good movie but it is most definitely an entertaining one. If that’s what you’re looking for, then this is a solid bet if not just to break down all the crazy parts that make it up. If you’re looking for something deeper or ambitious in your big summer movie, go see X-men: First Class or Super 8. You can even try and find Thor at the dollar theater. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a much different experience from all of those, shedding depth entirely while trying for pure visceral thrills with its unrelenting destructive whims. Enjoy it for the diversion it is and you’ll come out having had a good time.

– – –

GuysNation and PlannedBanter have partnered up to help maximize the visibility of great content. For more great articles from them which aren’t already featured at GuysNation, check out their home blog, which includes their regular podcasts and other great content:


You can (and should) also follow them on Twitter: @PlannedBanter

Instantly watch from thousands of TV episodes & movies streaming from Netflix. Try Netflix for FREE!