Movies like “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon” bolster the sequel stereotype: they only get worse and worse. Michael Bay is milking these Hasbro toys until the teet runs dry, as the latest installment in the Transformers series is the weakest and most forgettable of the robo-mayhem franchise.
The plot is basically the same story rehashed with fresh ‘bots: Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is once again a whiny kid who’s down on his luck, until a new threat comes — once again — from outer space (although tying it in with JFK and the moon landing was a nice historical touch) which only he and the Autobots can defeat. Yippee Skippie. Oh, and the hot girlfriend is still prominent, only this time it’s blond bombshell Carly (Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). If you’re worried the underwear-diva gets hurt, don’t worry, her and her white shirt remain spotless throughout the explosions, fights and falling buildings.
With scenes such as an untarnished model running through a ruined city, Bay’s cheesy cinematography is really what kills this movie. Yes, it’s his style to have constant sex appeal and testosterone-fueled explosions and battle scenes, but it worked a lot better in the first Transformers than it ever does here. Almost every slow motion scene is done in the most laughable way possible, and even the gun-totting action doesn’t feel as gripping as before. With the exception of Shockwave’s city-crushing worm and the battles in an obliterated Chicago, most of the action scenes pale in comparison to previous ones in the franchise.
Although their scenes aren’t always spectacular, the Transformers themselves are exquisitely colored and detailed. There’s no denying that a Bay movie is going to have high-quality special effects. The paintjobs, weapons and gears are all gleaming, and the battle-scars the transformers obtain are just as well done. The visual and audio effects are also spectacles in themselves. Tumbling buildings, shattering glass and the sound made during the car-to-robot conversion are always appealing sights and sounds to behold.
However, fancy CGI and high-class sound effects cant carry a movie. Then again, it’s kind of expected with the Transformers movies, as the acting has never been anything to brag about. LaBeouf does his tired, unconvincing kid-turned-hero shtick, and Huntington-Whiteley poses (complete with 3D ass-closeups) and looks pretty like a typical girl in a Bay film. Newcomer Patrick Dempsey is tolerable as wealthy car-collector/racer Dylan Gould, but should go back to his drama-filled medical dayjob. At least the Ken Jeong and John Malkovich cameos manage to be entertaining for the fifteen minutes of screentime they get.
Sadly, fifteen minutes of good ol’ fashioned chuckles is a mere sliver of the 157 minute marathon. At a little over two and a half hours, there weren’t nearly enough fight scenes or explosions to rectify the movie’s snail pacing. As a fellow movie-goer eloquently said, “They should’ve Harry Potter’d that shit!” Well said, sir. In all seriousness, the pacing was so slow during the second third of the movie that it would’ve been preferable to just end it and make a two-parter. Hopefully then Bay and Co. would have put more effort into both parts, at least making the movies slightly more entertaining.
The Transformers movies have never been about being high quality pieces of cinema. The big explosions, cars, fighting robots and hot chicks formula works in its own way if you watch the movie with certain expectations. However, “Dark of the Moon” fails to even satisfy this genre, as the robots in disguise fail to even meet the audience’s eyes, or expectations.