By Todd Matthy
Friday was my birthday and a tradition I have is seeing a movie with my Mom. This year my Dad had the day off so he came to. I decided the most appropriate movie for us to see was Transformers: Dark of the Moon. After all, the original, animated movie was always a favorite of family movie night. (At least for me) So was it the fun, family outing we used to enjoy during my youth? I thought so.
The plot for Dark of the Moon is the same as the episode, “The Ultimate Doom” where Megatron is trying to build a spacebridge that will bring Cybertron into Earth’s orbit. The technology to accomplish this is in the wreckage of the Autobot starship “The Ark,” which crashed on the dark side of the moon in the sixties. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBouf) is down on his luck. He’s graduated college, been dumped by Mikaela, Bumblebee’s left him to work for the government and he can’t find a job. However, there is one bright spot in his life. His rich, supportive, and scorching hot girlfriend, Carly. (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) All this time the Autobots are off doing the governments dirty work. After a sequence that will probably get this movie banned in Iran, the Autobots discover that humans knew about the Ark and built the space program around exploring it. Together they discover the body of Optimus’ predecessor, Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) and revive him. Unfortunately, Sentinel’s plans are not in Earth’s best interest.
From its opening battle on Cybertron, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a ride. If you see it in IMAX 3D there are multiple times when you get the sensation of movement, thanks to fast, sweeping, camera angles. When things explode the vibrations rattle your seat. It’s pretty amazing. The robots are the most realistic looking of all three films, especially their facial expressions. Technically this movie is sound, no doubt about it, acting wise it is what it is. Rosie Huntington-Whitely surprised me; the screenwriters gave her a story. Lets face it, Megan Fox’s character was always along for the ride, Carly actually had her own story arc and while it may be a cliché one, it still makes you care. It’s amazing what happens when you give the female lead her own story. Also, when she puts on the blue evening gown, my god I don’t have words for it. Trust me. Shia LeBouf’s Sam was all right. We understand his motivations and he has a good sense of wit. I love John Turturro’s character Seymour Simmons, he steals every scene he’s in. The scene where he’s on “The O’Reilly Factor” is priceless. Kudos should also be given to Alan Tudyk for his portrayal of Simmons’ assistant, Dutch. He always surprises you. Another actor who was a scene-stealer was Leonard Nimoy voicing Sentinel Prime. Nimoy’s voice gave the character a gravitas he wouldn’t have had otherwise. You can tell sympathize with his motivation but not agree with his methods. It’s kind of tragic when you think about it. The big final battle in Chicago has to be seen to be believed. A symphony of destruction from start to finish.
Dark of the Moon has its fair share of negatives. Whether it’s introducing characters and dropping them halfway through (John Malkovich’s character) or the lack of attention given to basic things like physics, it was the mischaracterization of three of it’s major characters; Megatron, Starscream, and Shockwave, that stood out the most. For the all the hype that was given to Shockwave, shouldn’t he have had a greater role in the movie? He only appears once in the first act then reappears for the final battle. Couldn’t he have done something like, I don’t know, usurped Megatron? The Shockwave I grew up with an evil Mr. Spock, an emotionless commander driven by logic. And speaking of usurpers, what the hell was up with Starscream? Yes, in every version of Transformers, Starscream’s groveled before Megatron, but that was usually part of his plan to overthrow him. In this movie he was all grovel but no traitor. Finally, there was Megatron, who was confined to the sidelines. As leader of the Decepticons he should’ve been on the frontlines, especially during the battle of Chicago. Instead he’s sitting in an alley and let’s Carly call him “Sentinel’s bitch.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t the Megatron we all know and love have crushed her for speaking to him in that tone? (As a geeky aside, in the comics Megatron ripped Sentinel’s spark right out of his chest. An event I depicted here.)
Anyway as someone who actually enjoyed Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon is definitely a step up and a great movie to see, even if it makes your mother exhausted by film’s end. (Sorry Mom) While some parts may defy logic and basic physics, you are engrossed and having fun for the two and a half-hour run time and ultimately that’s what we want. While it may not have the charm and heart of the first movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a step up from Revenge of the Fallen and a fun, exciting ride that will transport you back to your childhood. If you grew up on it you get it, if you didn’t well…