The CGI work is brilliant, but the storyline and characters flub in Michael Bay's third Transformers installment.
Director: Michael Bay Rating: PG-13 Studio: Paramount Pictures
What can one possibly say about Transformers: Dark of the Moon, movie number three in what we hope will be the last of director Michael Bay’s monstrously lucrative box-office trilogy about good and evil talking robots?
Well, let’s see now. This one, which starts well enough with a 1960s flashback linking the Autobots and Decepticons with the Apollo moon landings and what looks like JFK in a rubber mask, brings back Shia LaBeouf as the geeky ’bot-magnet Sam. This time though, all grown up and a college grad, the once charming, energetic LaBeouf, mostly required by Ehren Kruger’s script to run around and yell, now seems cocky, overly confident, off-putting and charm-challenged.
Rosie Huntington-Whitely has replaced Megan Fox (apparently canned for comparing Michael Bay to Hitler), and the aerodynamically stacked British rose with the Bardot upper lip, the Victoria’s Secret bod and the blank stare seems (to put it mildly) highly improbably paired with her co-star. They generate zero chemistry.
What else? The racist ’bots from the abysmal Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are happily absent only to be replaced by what seems like dozens of interchangeable ‘bots who occasionally spout what sounds suspiciously like right-wing jingoism. The 3D effects by Industrial Light and Magic are vertiginous, jaw dropping and very dark and the CGI work—featuring a skyscraper nightmarishly folding into itself while cast members get hurled helter-skelter and Chicago getting destroyed by warring robots—is straight up astonishing. The movie’s every attempt at humor is once again aimed at easily amused seven year olds, and way too many robots thrash the hell out of each other for what feels like endless amounts of screen time.
For any of us so hopelessly old school that we expect at least a sliver of story, character, point of view or a tasty performance—something, anything—to help us slog through 154 grotesquely bloated minutes of sound and fury, the pickings are slim. Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich and John Turturro mug, bellow, flounder, are mowed down by the chaos around them and earn what one hopes were healthy paychecks. The wonderful Alan Tudyk is wasted. Dark of the Moon nothing; this one's more like Where the Sun Don't Shine.
About the Author
Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.