June 30, 2011
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Release Date: June 29, 2011
Way, Way Less Than Meets the Eye
I guess I’m not all that shocked that another Transformers film was given the go-ahead after the debacle that was Revenge of the Fallen almost certainly toppled Hasbro’s hopes for cinematic glory. After all, the movies have grossed greenbacks galore, and they feature what many of the contemporary teenage generation crave from their action films: scantily clad vixens, deafening explosions, and snippy humor that lives and dies by the one-liner.
You can see where I’m going with this. There’s a formula that has earned the Transformers movie franchise a devoted following, so there’s no reason to think that Bay (or, I’m sorry to say, anyone else involved with the production) would see any reason to switch things up and approach the series from a fresh perspective.
And that pretty much sums up Dark of the Moon. It’s a spastic, cobbled-together sensory overload that eventually dissolves into nothing but white noise.
I really mean that. Even though the film has a staggering run-time of 157 minutes, I felt myself longing for something exciting—nay engaging—as one crippling alien robot brawl inexplicably bled into another. It seems, too, that Bay and company somehow imagined that churning out a two-and-a-half-hour picture would somehow elevate the film to “epic” level. This, of course, isn’t the case. Instead, the movie feels distended—as if it’s literally going to fly off the reel in a shower of shredded celluloid.
If there’s one bright spot in Dark of the Moon, it comes in the form of a fantastically choreographed sequence in which one of the giant robots destroys a building in downtown Chicago. As Sam and his friends frantically search for a means of escape from the doomed structure, they’re forced to find creative ways to descend the tower (oftentimes resorting to sliding down walls of windows and adjusting their trajectory when said angry sentient jerks the building in a different direction). As stupid as the whole thing is, I couldn’t help but marvel at this one instance of sheer technical achievement.
But one scene can’t save a movie. I haven’t even touched on the inexplicable presence of acting heavyweights John Malkovich and Frances McDormand (were they really that desperate for a payday?), but believe me when I say that Dark of the Moon is every bit the indecipherable mess that defined its predecessor.
out of 5