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Home Reviews Cinema reviews Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Wednesday, 29 June 2011 12:09
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Turturro
Certificate: 12A

It's never a good sign when you walk out of a cinema saying "The air conditioning was really good", but Transformers: Dark of the Moon isn't actually as bad as you'd expect. It's just completely pointless. 

There is a plot, technically speaking. It involves a MacGuffin hidden on the dark side of the moon. Inevitably, the MacGuffin is a giant robot. Yes, after two films, this franchise still has no human characters of any interest. One scene sees a robot transform in a desert, watched by a herd of bewildered elephants. These elephants are as crucial to the plot as the entire human cast. 

Now back to the robots. There are the good robots (Optimus Prime, still dishing out moral lectures while staring at pretty sunsets), the bad robots (Megatron), and the old robots (Sentinel Prime, voiced by Leonard Nimoy). Every now and then, these robots hit each other. At one point, a robot hits a building. At another point, a tiny robot looks through a woman's underwear drawer. There's not much logic behind any of it, not that Michael Bay cares. He's busy looking through her underwear drawer too. 

The woman in question is, of course, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Stepping into Megan Fox's sex object shoes, she pouts, bends over and generally says nothing. It's probably for the best. She doesn't even seem to know how to move her own neck.

Ehren Kruger's screenplay is a triumph of sorts. Toning down Transformer 2's more racist, annoying robots and using the 1969 moon landing as the film's starting point, it's the most coherent of the Transformers series. Even then, though, it barely holds together, jumping between supporting roles by John Malkovich and Frances McDormand, each one more irrelevant than the last. 

John Turturro enjoys the return of his token nut-job (with camp Danish manservant Alan Tudyk), but Kruger doesn't know what to do with all these supposedly important people. He doesn't even get Megatron to crush them to death - one of the few named characters to meet a sticky end is a crude Asian-American who's the butt of a gay joke. The rest of the anonymous male men spend their time fist-bumping as Chicago gets torn to shreds by CGI.

For a brainless blockbuster, Dark of the Moon really is impressively dumb. In revealing the backstory, one man says he was sworn to secrecy. Bay promptly shows a flashback of him being sworn to secrecy, in case we don't understand what a secret is. But that's not as awful as the painfully obvious exposition when plucky teenager Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) turns to a guy mid-climax to ask: "Why are you helping me?"

Still, Bay's set pieces have never looked more spectacular. The 3D technology has forced the director to slow down his takes. As a result, everything's easier to follow in the action-packed final hour - the explosions, the guns, the exploding guns, the robots, and the robots with exploding guns all look amazing. No wonder it ends with the entire cast walking away from the carnage in slow-motion.

Why it has to be so long, though, is a mystery, like the fact that some robots have facial hair. Made of what? Mechanical fluff? Women's underwear? At 154 minutes, this is too long to be a truly fun summer blockbuster. Epic action sequences are one thing, but this is hardly The Return of the King. A quarter of an hour in, Sam's mum looks at his second-hand car. "What does it turn into?" she asks. Sam sighs, explaining that it doesn't transform at all. Sometimes, a car is just a car. And noise is just noise.


It's a big improvement on Revenge of the Fallen, but Transformers 3 is as pointless as that green triangle you get in a tin of Quality Street. 

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