It’s another summer blockbuster season, and that means there’s another foolhardy attempt at reigniting the beleagured, yet hugely successful, Transformers franchise. With the third go-round, subtitled Dark of the Moon, director Michael Bay has stuck to his guns, both literally and figuratively. The expensive-looking flick is 90 percent explosions and CGI, 5 percent characterization and 5 percent story. For ogling fanboys, this may be a dream come true. From most others, Transformers 3 is a needless headache.
Shia LaBeouf is back as Sam Witwicky, the young man who can’t seem to get away from the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, robotic aliens who hail from the planet Cybertron. In this installment, the impetus for action is a long-lost Transformer that escaped the home planet before its imminent destruction and landed on Earth’s moon. In the 1960s, American astronauts discovered the remains of the spacecraft known as The Ark and its pilot, Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy, aka Mr. Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series), but not knowing what to do, they left the machine slumbering.
Flash forward to the present day and now there’s a mad race between the Autobots and Decepticons to find Sentinel and the secrets of The Ark.
How do the tiny human beings play into this sci-fi plot? Well, Frances McDormand, an Oscar winner for Fargo, does her best “government suit” as Charlotte Mearing, the head of American intelligence and de-facto controller of all things Autobot. She’s got her hands busy keeping track of who is fighting and where. Major Lennox (Josh Duhamel) is still helping the Autobots root out the Decepitcons, this time in the Middle East.
Sam has graduated college, ditched his old girlfriend (the hot Megan Fox) and landed a new live-in hottie (the beautiful Rosie Huntingont-Whiteley, with her impossibly high cheekbones and smooching lips). How Sam, an average kid with a penchant for being a fast-talking smart ass, can score these women is perhaps the largest mystery of Transformers.
Unable to get a job and jealous of his girlfriend’s rich boss (Patrick Dempsey in a thankless role), Sam finds himself needing some direction. He’s not going to get anywhere with his parents, played by the always likable Kevin Dunn and Julie White. He’s not going to get anywhere on his job interviews, especially when there’s bosses out there like Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich, who is the best part of Transformers: Dark of the Moon).
What’s the best way to keep Sam busy and impress his new girlfriend at the same time? Well, have him team up with former Agent Simmons (John Turturro), who is now hocking a government tell-all book to the media. The two gain access to Mearing and try to help with the pending battle between the Autobots, Decepticons and the increasingly suspicious Sentinel Prime.
The movie, like its two predecessors, is a visual feast for the eyes. The CGI is unparalleled and when the city of Chicago goes up in flames, it’s a sight unseen. There’s this new featured Transformer that makes its way through skyscrapers like a killer worm, and it proves to be an impressive addition to the movie.
The fault does not rest with the robots. They have always outperformed their potential. The ineptitude of this bloated mess (and at 157 minutes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon can certainly be classified a bloated mess) is the sole fault of the humans involved. The script, by Ehren Kruger, is a strung-together carnival that doesn’t make sense. The characters are virtually non-existent.
It’s all just so big and dumb. But, man, it looks good.By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Directed by Michael Bay
Written by Ehren Kruger
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Frances McDormand, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Malkovich and the voice of Leonard Nimoy
Running time: 157 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo
Click here to purchase Transformers: Dark of the Moon on DVD.