Earlier this year, Michael Bay admitted that the 2009 ‘Transformers’ sequel ‘Revenge of the Fallen‘ “was crap” (his words). Of course, he placed most of blame on the Writer’s Strike, not himself. With the third and (supposedly) final ‘Transformers’ movie opening this week, Bay has claimed that ‘Dark of the Moon’ makes up for ‘Revenge of the Fallen’. My opinion: Don’t fall for his lies.
Bay cites the disjointed story as a major fault in ‘Revenge of the Fallen’: “We tried to do too many things in the second movie, which didn’t give enough time in any one of them. We were constantly jumping to the next piece of information, the next place.” Unfortunately, the third film does the exact same thing.
He also claimed that the lame comic relief that hurt the second film would be absent in the third: “One thing we’re getting rid of is what I call the ‘dorky comedy.’ So the twins, the two bumbling, slang-spewing robots? They’re basically gone.” He even went so far as to put his money where his mouth is: “The Twins are not in the movie. You will not find them anywhere… So I am offering a $25,000 REWARD to anyone who can find them performing in Transformers 3, on July 1, when the movie opens.”
This is only partially true. While the Skids and Mudflap characters don’t appear here (that I could find), they’ve been replaced with a couple of dorky Transformers with Scottish accents (one voiced by Craig Ferguson) and some new dorky pet-like robots that somehow have hair. They just don’t do anything stereotypical that might earn Bay another “racist” backlash. In fact, there are more dorky characters than ever. If anything, ‘Dark of the Moon’ replaces the high concentration of dorky robots with dorky humans. The new major players (John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Ken Jeong, Alan Tudyk and Patrick Dempsey) join the ranks of the returning dorky cast (Julie White, Kevin Dunn and John Turturro). And Megan Fox replacement Rose Huntington-Whiteley does nothing more than Fox could do – in other words, stand there looking pretty, pout, etc.
Bay has said that ‘Dark of the Moon’ is the final chapter of a trilogy: “This one really builds to a final crescendo. It’s not three multiple endings. As a trilogy, it really ends. It could be rebooted again, but I think it has a really killer ending.” Wrong again, Mr. Bay. ‘Dark of the Moon’ is hardly a “crescendo.” While it doesn’t have multiple endings, it does have an hour-long ending. And it hardly brings the saga to a close.
‘Transformers’ star Shia LaBeouf put the blame of the second film on the failed attempt to go bigger than the original. “We got lost. We tried to get bigger. It’s what happens to sequels. It’s like, how do you top the first one? You’ve got to go bigger. Mike went so big that it became too big, and I think you lost the anchor of the movie. … You lost a bit of the relationships. Unless you have those relationships, then the movie doesn’t matter. Then it’s just a bunch of robots fighting each other.” Well, ‘Dark of the Moon’ goes much bigger than either of the previous two movies, the relationships are just as shallow as ever (the only depth you get comes from the 3D), and there are even more scenes of robots fighting robots than ever before. Bay’s idea of making up for ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ is to give us an hour-long action-packed climax, but the story isn’t any stronger than the last film. Once again, it jumps from one piece of information to the next, it’s full of holes, and it never makes complete sense.
The only thing that ‘Dark of the Moon’ does that ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ couldn’t is show off how egotistical Michael Bay is when it comes to 3D. For as much as Bay has relentlessly touted the 3D in the movie, it sure isn’t very impressive. After a long-winded prologue that sets up a historical story shown again later in the film, the first present-day shot we see is a 3D close-up of Megan Fox Part II’s half-naked butt walking up stairs. Bay constantly places unfocused objects in the foreground and others deep in the background to make sure you see the depth of his 3D shooting. The one benefit that comes from ‘Dark of the Moon’ being shot in the 3D is the fact that it restricted Bay from using his usual quick-cutting shaky-cam style. In the previous ‘Transformers’ movies, audiences were repeatedly left wondering which robot just killed which other robot.
‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ is more of the same nothingness. The story, the fighting, the CG effects – all just more of the same. None of it is particularly remarkable. In fact, there’s only one memorable scene in the entire movie – and even then, only because it’s something rarely featured in a ‘Transformers’ movie: an actual CG-less stunt. A team of precision skydiving soldiers jumps out of crashing choppers in winged “bird man” suits that allow them to fly between the skyscrapers of Chicago. Being a true stunt performed by professionals, it’s the one scene from ‘Dark of the Moon’ that will stick with you. Everything else either resembles something from a previous ‘Transformers’ movie, a previous Michael Bay flick (much of ‘The Island’, ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Armageddon’ is present here), or the hallway and hotel bar scenes from ‘Inception’.
Running 154 minutes long, there are at least 154 better ways to waste your time than devoting it to another ‘Transformers’ mess. The only audience I can see enjoying ‘Dark of the Moon’ is the same easily-pleased audience that caused ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ to gross over $400 million domestically. Do yourself a favor and stay away from it. The reason Bay apologized for ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ was to trick you into believing that ‘Dark of the Moon’ would actually be worth watching.
After Bay’s three-picture destruction of a series I wanted to love for nostalgia’s sake, I can only hope that someone will reboot these robots in the future and do them some justice.