TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON. Starring at Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey and John Malkovich. Vocied by Hugo Weaving, Leonard Nimoy and Frank Welker. Directed by Michael Bay. 154 minutes. Rated M (Action violence and coarse language).
Almost universally panned by reviewers. Almost universally liked by its audiences. This third in the series made over $200,000, 000 in the US in about ten days and twice that in box office takings around the world in the same time. As they say, a popular cultural phenomenon. And, as the reviewers say, there’s no accounting for tastes.
My previous experiences of Transformer movies was thunderously loud sound. For this third one, the projectionist kept it at tolerable. A great advantage.
Another advantage by this time, with a little help from a voiceover at the beginning, is that one has learned who the Autobots are and who are the Deceptikons and what they are doing on earth and how they relate to humans. You don’t have to be a genius, only a fan of The Transformer movies (that sounds a bit mean as I look at it!), to know that the Deceptikons are up to no good. This time they don’t want merely to take over the earth and make us humans their slaves, they want to bring their planet Cybertron down here. And, after decimating Chicago, they almost succeed. (After so many destructions of New York and, especially LA, even recently in 2012 and Battle for LA, there is a certain satisfaction in seeing Chicago the victim of spectacular special devastation effects.)
But, of course, the Deceptikons, especially Megatron (voiced by Hugo Weaving) have underestimated Sam Witwicky (Shia La Boeuf) who outwitted him before. Sam is out of a job, out of a girlfriend (since Megan Fox did not have her contract renewed), pestered by his parents, and jealous of his new girlfriend’s boss. She is played by British model Rosie Huntington –Whitely who is certainly going to win on the catwalk but is in real danger of a Razzie nomination for her lack of performance. But, she gets plenty of close-ups and is in on all the final action.
The mechanically-oriented are going to be satisfied with the transformations. The action-oriented have nothing to worry about. Plenty there. The special-effects-oriented are going to be satisfied. The screenplay-as-something-one-puts-one’s-mind-to-oriented will simply give up.
Michael Bay, prone to the very big, the very loud and the very smashing in his films, and whose scrapbook of favourable reviews is still very tiny, ensures that the legion of Transformer fans will not be disappointed.
One of the interesting things at the beginning of the film is the build up during the Kennedy era of the race to the moon and then the actual Apollo 11 flight. But, even more interesting for conspiracy theory addicts, is that the flight was not simply to get there and be there but that Buzz Aldrin (who appears as himself seeming to verify what ‘really’ happened, a nice coup) and Neil Armstrong, after the famous, ‘One small step...’ actually had to spend twenty minutes examining the giant Autobot spacecraft that had landed on the moon some time earlier and which NASA wanted to investigate. Capricorn One, years ago, posited the conspiracy that the moon landing was fabricated in a studio. The forthcoming Apollo 18 is going to posit some paranormal activity. The moon landing is a ripe field for conspiracy.
The cast goes a bit more up-market this time. John Turturro is back as is Josh Duhamel. But, here we have John Malkovich and Frances McDormand with substantial roles, Leonard Nimoy as the voice of the treacherous Seintinel Prime and Patrick Dempsey as a smooth villain.
It has already made millions, so who needs a review!
Out June 29, 2011