Thursday, June 30, 2011
DARK OF THE MOON: The Review... So I saw Transformers 3 late last night, and overlooking the typical flaws seen in a Michael Bay flick, the movie was very entertaining. Not only do we get more robot characters (who actually transform constantly) in the film, but we see main icons such as Optimus Prime and Bumblebee kicking major ass against the Decepticons. Speaking of the Decepticons, it’s nice to see that TF3 has a truly formidable main villain in the film...unlike in Revenge of the Fallen. I’m gonna list potential spoilers in this review, so continue reading at your own discretion.
First off, let me talk about the humans. Sam Witwicky’s new love interest, to be exact. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley did a nice job as Carly (even though this is Whiteley’s first true acting gig)...and even brought a playful vibe to Dark of the Moon that was somewhat missing from Megan Fox’s performance in the two previous movies (even though I’ll admit that it was the relationship between Sam and Mikaela that was one of the main factors that won me over with the first Transformers film in 2007). Don’t get me wrong... I still have a thing for Fox (who doesn’t?), but Whiteley was definitely up to the task of looking as hot and pouty as Megan did in TF1 and TF2. In terms of the very first shot of Carly that we see in Dark of the Moon, I have no issue with it. Number one: This is a Michael Bay film...we should get used to him shamelessly filming his actresses from behind (I’m not saying that it’s right, though). And number two: Rosie is a Victoria’s Secret model, Megan isn’t. Rosie apparently didn’t mind being objectified in a summer blockbuster flick. I’ll leave it at that.
In terms of the other human characters, they’re your standard comic relief buffoons and action hero types that you see in a Bay film. John Malkovich played Shia LaBeouf’s wacky boss who for some odd reason hates red cups, Ken Jeong played a paranoid aerospace employee who has a homoerotic way of concealing government secrets, John Turturro returned as former Sector 7 agent Simmons, with Alan Tudyk as his hilarious German associate Dutch, Frances McDormand as National Intelligence Director Charlotte Mearing, Josh Duhamel as Lennox, Tyrese Gibson as retired Air Force Master Sergeant Epps, and Patrick Dempsey...who plays Dylan Gould, a shady human sympathizer who was in such cahoots with the Deceptions that I thought he was yet another Pretender...a la Isabel Lucas’ character Alice in Revenge of the Fallen. And of course, Sam Witwicky’s parents once again show up in the film to teach him a thing or two about getting the girl of his dreams (with his mom making another penis reference just like she did in TF1).
Now...let’s talk about the Transformers themselves. Dark of the Moon revealed the world of Cybertron in the opening scene of the film (with a Star Wars-like dogfight—complete with TIE Fighter-like engine sound effects—above the planet), and revealed to us the main villain of the movie: Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy, who also voiced the main villain Galvatron in 1986's Transformers: The Movie). I thought it would be Shockwave who would be the main antagonist of Dark of the Moon, but sadly, he was yet another cool-looking bad guy who was underused just like The Fallen in Revenge of the Fallen. Much like The Fallen, Shockwave doesn’t even kill anyone in TF3...but instead shoots at an airborne Optimus Prime and causes him to become ensnared by the cables of a construction crane during the climactic battle in Chicago. Awesome. Megatron and Starscream also return in Dark of the Moon (obviously)...and so does Soundwave, in robotic and vehicle modes that I’m sure will piss off a lot of Transformers purists out there. [Where’s Soundwave’s visor? And he does NOT have a mouth! Did Frank Welker do his voice this time around? Sure didn't sound like it. (But yes, Frank Welker did return to do the Decepticon's voice.)] On the plus side though, Barricade—the Decepticon cop car who suddenly disappeared at the end of TF1—makes a return in TF3! He gets to kill an Autobot during the final battle in Chicago. More on that in the next paragraph.
Most of the new robot characters (at least those with actual names) in TF3 belonged to the Autobots. The Wreckers, Dino, Brains and Que [who met his demise (at the hands of Barricade) in what was admittedly a very sad scene towards the end of Dark of the Moon] joined Optimus Prime and company in countering Sentinel Prime and his Decepticon allies as they tried to restore Cybertron at the expense of Earth and its human inhabitants. (By the way, those shots of Cybertron heading towards Earth reminded me of the final scenes in the Smallville and The Event series finales last month. Don't know if that's a good thing.) Optimus and Bumblebee themselves were once again the heroic stars of Transformers 3...with Bumblebee defeating Soundwave...and Optimus being the one who would most decisively and appropriately put Megatron, Sentinel and Shockwave out of their collective miseries. In terms of Megatron, Optimus definitely got revenge for the bitchslapping he received by ol’ Megs in TF1...despite the fact Megs was left with half a face by his encounter with Prime in TF2. In the words of Sam (who was the one who killed Starscream): "Well he’s dead."
So all-in-all, Dark of the Moon was an action-packed film. In terms of the real issues I had with the movie, it was with simple details that are related to the NASA-related aspects of its storyline. I’m a die-hard space geek, and I noticed that the ascent stage of the Apollo 11 lunar module was still attached to the descent stage when Optimus and Ratchet went to the Moon (during the present day) to investigate the Ark’s wreckage. Also, I noticed that Bay still didn’t have Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) attach the lunar module to the rest of the Apollo 11 spacecraft when it headed to the Moon, shown in the pic above, during the opening scene of TF3 (this omission was apparent in the teaser trailer...if you're an observant nerd like I am). However, I will give credit to Ehren Kruger (who wrote TF3) for mentioning NASA’s still-active Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter...as well as Bay for showing space shuttle Discovery (even though it was heavily-modified by ILM) in the movie. I would also talk about Steve Jablonsky’s music score for Dark of the Moon...but surprisingly, it didn’t have as many memorable themes as the first two films did. But it was nonetheless pretty good. I’ll probably still buy the score on CD when it comes out...whenever that will be. That is all.