TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON - Visually Stunning But Soulless
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (fantasy adventure)
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Malkovich, Patrick Dempsey, Ken Jeong, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Peter Cullen and Tyrese Gibson (with robot voices by Leonard Nimoy, Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving)
Director: Michael Bay
Screenplay by Ehren Kruger
Time: 154 mins
Overall Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
CGI effects rating: * * * *
PREAMBLE: It's 'Bayhem' time again - and this time around demolition expert Michael Bay is presenting his trademark six-Cs in glorious 3D! In case you don't know, the six 'Cs' are: clashes, crashes, chases, combustions, carnage and cleavage. Spread over a bottom-numbing two-and-a-half hours, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon can also induce mental and metal fatigue, especially with the clanging robots smashing one another - and the whole exercise making little sense.
Technologically, however, Dark Of The Moon is Bay's best work so far - and action fans looking to be awed by scenes of massive mayhem and destruction would be thrilled. Story-wise, this one is better than Revenge Of The Fallen, but not as fun and emotionally-connecting as the first.
SYNOPSIS: Dark Of The Moon opens with the Sixties Apollo landing mission where history is rewritten (by Ehren Kruger) to incorporate the cover-up of an alien spaceship crashing on the moon. That spaceship, of course, is one of the remains of the epic battles between the Autobots and the Decepticons, and its 'discovery' sparks off another war that threatens to destroy planet Earth. Or at least the face of Chicago as we know it.
On the human level, we find that Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has traded in his girlfriend Mikaela (Megan Fox) for a newer model (a Victoria Secret one, to be exact) in the shape of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly (pictured right with LaBeouf). Sam is being offered a job by Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich) but we soon learn that Carly's boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey) may be up to no good. Then, when the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons hots up, Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson) of the elite Government squad NEST are summarily called into action.
HITS & MISSES: We get lulled into believing that there may somehow be an intelligent plot coming from the conspiracy of the NASA lunar-landing cover-up which also involves the Russian space programme and Chernobyl. These turn out to be just an exercise in 'historical name-dropping' to spur our interest before we get to the demolition derby created by the Transformers. Indeed, some of the robots seem to emote better that the live cast. Cybertron leader Sentinel Prime, for example, is even designed to look like Leonard Nimoy (who provides its voice), complete with stuff that looks like beard. Again, the problems of the previous instalments recur - like the confusion between the good and bad robots in the clashes.
Unlike the first two movies, there are no more gags about the shock of humans interacting with the mechanical 'bots. Bay, however, insists on some comic sequences and he has hired Ken Jeong to do his in-your-face schtick as Jerry Wang. John Turturro reprises his role as former FBI agent Simmons but this time around, Turturro finds it fit to ham his role. The most striking inclusion to the cast is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam's love interest. However, with limited acting talent, she provides only eye-candy and beside her, Megan Fox would look like an Oscar-calibre actress.
Like the first Transformers, this one is also a live-action cartoon on a grand scale. Scenes of Chicago buildings being toppled and destroyed can be as spectacular and brain-numbing as those of September 11; and the wingsuit flying sequences (above) are breath-taking. Indeed, these are what most of Michael Bay's fans pay for and they will not be disappointed. The only problem for me is that Bay prolongs and repeats the robotic clash sequences to the point of being self-indulgent.
THE LOWDOWN: Technically brilliant and visually arresting, Dark Of The Moon lacks heart.