Transformers: Dark of the Moon

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1961, a Cybertronian spacecraft crash lands on the far side of the moon. Known as the Ark, it was the last ship to escape a Cybertron devastated by war. Piloted by Sentinel Prime, it carried “the Pillars”, technology that could save the Cybertronians once and for all. On Earth, the crash of the Ark is detected by NASA, and President John F. Kennedy authorizes the mission to put a man on the moon as a cover. In 1969, Apollo 11 lands on the surface of the Moon to investigate the Ark.

In the present day, the Autobots have forged a military alliance with the United States, but largely act independently in stopping humans from destroying themselves. During a mission in Chernobyl at the request of the Ukrainian government, Optimus Prime discovers a fuel cell from the Ark (which awakened Shockwave) that the Soviet Union attempted to use as a power source, resulting in the Chernobyl disaster. Knowing this, Optimus launches his own mission to retrieve the Pillars and revive Sentinel Prime. Just five Pillars remain on-board the vessel, which the Autobots describe as being the means to establish a mobile space bridge between two points and transport matter through. U.S. National Intelligence Director Charlotte Mearing (Frances McDormand) is horrified at this revelation as the Pillars could be used to bring an invading army to Earth.

Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky is frustrated by his life after graduating from college as he hasn’t been able to find a job. He takes his frustrations out on his girlfriend, Carly Spencer, and her close relationship with her playboy accountant boss, Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey). Sam is eventually hired in a mail room in a high-pressure working environment. One of his co-workers, Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong), takes an unusual interest in Sam’s activities before revealing himself to be a conspiracy theorist. He passes information on to Sam about “the dark side of the moon” before being assassinated by Laserbeak, a condor-like Decepticon. After contacting the retired Seymour Simmons (John Turturro), Sam realizes that the Decepticons are systematically killing people connected to the American and Russian space missions. They locate two Russian cosmonauts who fled to America after the Soviet space program was shut down. The cosmonauts have photos taken by Soviet satellites that clearly show hundreds of Pillars being stockpiled on the Moon. Sam realizes that the Decepticons raided the Ark decades beforehand and are luring the Autobots into a trap: unable to revive Sentinel Prime on their own, they left him and five Pillars – including the Master Pillar, which controls all of them – for the Autobots to find. Sam contacts the Autobots and reveals that Sentinel Prime is being targeted by the Decepticons, and escort him to their base. However, Sentinel reveals that he made a deal with the Decepticons and betrays both the Autobots and the humans, destroying their base and executing Ironhide before fleeing with the Pillars.

Sentinel uses the Pillars to establish a space bridge with the Moon, where hundreds of Decepticons have lain in wait for decades. Sam is forced by Dylan Gould – revealed to be the Decepticons’ agent on Earth – into finding out Optimus Prime’s plans for retaliation. Gould has taken Carly captive and threatens to kill her if Sam does not follow his evil instructions. Gould places a Decepticon-powered “watch” on Sam’s wrist that appears to send pulsing pain through Sam at the whim of the Decepticons, who can track Sam’s every move, every thought, and see through his eyes when he is wearing the device. Sam finds Optimus Prime and asks him for the autobots’ plan and assures him that “no other human will ever know.” Optimus Prime wisely explains there is no plan for retaliation. The Autobots are exiled from Earth by way of a decommissioned space shuttle spacecraft salvaged from the previous landings. Knowing this, the Decepticons destroy the Autobot rocket, and take control of Earth. With Gould’s help, they establish themselves in Chicago and fortify the city. Gould reveals to a kidnapped Carly that the Decepticons intend to rebuild Cybertron, strip-mining the Earth for resources and using humans as slave labor. In order to do this, the Decepticons have placed Pillars around the world to call Cybertron itself through the space bridge.

Angered at the betrayal, Sam finds USAF Chief Robert Epps and the two re-form Epps’ disbanded NEST team to go into Chicago and rescue Carly. They are nearly killed before they have set foot in the city and are saved by Optimus Prime and the Autobots, who escaped the explosion of their shuttle by hiding in one of the booster rockets that was disengaged before the Decepticon attack. Sam, the Autobots and NEST advance on Gould’s penthouse to rescue Carly and disable the Master Pillar before Cybertron appears in the sky. After battling through the city, NEST takes out the Decepticon leaders (including Shockwave) while Carly convinces Megatron that he will answer to Sentinel Prime once Cybertron is restored, instead of leading the Cybertronians himself. Sam reaches the Master Pillar where he confronts Gould. Gould is electrocuted by the Pillar, which Bumblebee destroys. The connection to Cybertron is broken, and the half-formed planet collapses into itself. With Cybertron destroyed, Optimus and Sentinel fight in the ruins of Chicago. Optimus loses an arm and is about to be killed by Sentinel before Megatron intervenes, convinced by Carly’s words. This gives Optimus the opening he needs to re-enter the fight, ripping Megatron’s head and spine from his body before executing Sentinel. Sam and Carly are reunited while the Autobots accept that with Cybertron gone, Earth is now their only home.

REVIEW:

If you happened to have read my reviews of the previous installments in the franchise, then you are more than aware that I grew up on the cartoons (G1 all the way!!!) and, as such, am a fanboy. That point aside, I will do my best to be fair and balanced in this review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

With all the blockbusters that have been released this summer, this one actually hasn’t gotten near the press…good anyway…as the others. Much of this has to do with the fact that many people detested Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I’m not really sure why, because I loved it.

So, the plot of this film is that the US government has been covering up the fact that they’ve known about the Transformers since the 60s. They even had some top-secret information that was gathered on the initial walk on the moon.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t sit too well with the Autobots, especially Optimus Prime, who goes on to tell the Secretary of Defense (not sure what her exact title is) that the ship that crashed on the moon was piloted by the previous leader of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime, as well as a very powerful device that could have changed the course of the war on Cybertron. Common sense should tell you that this is something that needs to be kept out of the hands of the Decepticons.

While all this is going, Sam Witwicky, is now living with his new girlfriend, Carly (don’t ask me how he keeps getting this ultra hotties), looking for a job, and struggling with finding his place in the world. In other words, the audience is supposed to feel sorry for him.

Fast forward a bit and Sentinel Prime turns on the Autobots and reveals that he wants nothing more than to be looked upon as a god again and return Cybertron to its former glory, even at the cost of the Earth and the humans.

This betrayal leads the world leaders to call for the Autobots to leave Earth and let them handle the crisis. You’d think they’d have learned from the last film, that when they try to that it doesn’t work. Not to mention, this is the guy that trained Optimus Prime. Do they really think they could stop him on their own?

The film concludes in an epic battle through Chicago tha is nothing short of awesometacular!

I’m no fan of 3D, but if there is anyone that could really do it justice, I belive it to be Michael Bay. However, I was running late to the theater this afternoon and rather than wait an hour for the next 3D screening, I chose the 2D. I honestly don’t think it was any big loss. Whatever it is that James Cameron has talking in his ear that is making him try to convince every director to do their films in 3D, something needs to be done about it. This film worked just as well in 2D, and might very well have made more money if not for the 3D option (even if tickets prices are higher for 3D).

One of the biggest complaints I’ve had ever since the first Transformers has been that they focus too much on the humans. In the last film, it was a little bit better, but they reverted in this one. As a matter of fact, they focused a bit too much on the humans.

Now, if you’re one of those people who thinks it is just fine with the humans and that there actually need to be more, look at the title. It is called Transformers, not humans. Heck, you can even go back and look at some old episodes from the cartoon. Of the 4 season it was on, I think there were maybe 2 or 3 that were more focused on the humans, one of which was one where Cobra Commander (yes, I said Cobra Commander) turned them human and used their bodies as weapons.

That wasn’t my only issue. In the other films, when the robots would fight, there was no blood involved. For some reason, in this installment, they’ve developed a way to bleed. I’m not really sure what is up with this, but I’m not a fan. I guess this is some other device to make this “a more human” picture.

Yes, the story is darker. Laserbeak is actually an assassin. One of his assassinations, I won’t spoil who, I’m glad he does, though. That guy annoys the living hell out of me!

Does the darkness help or hurt? No, but it’s not like a night and day difference, so that may be why.

Something else I noticed was how all the Transformers were extra shiny. I’m talking like they were freshly waxed, even after they have been in combat. Bumblebee and Optimus looked like they were fresh off the assembly line. something tells me the car companies had something to do with that, though.

Speaking of Bumblebee, he was relegated to a lesser character here. There was more of Wheelie and his sidekick, I think his name was Igor. Not really sure how Wheelie got a sidekick, though. While I did enjoy them, I was missing Skids and Mudflap.

Finally, Optimus Prime got his trailer. Was it really so hard to give him his trailer. It’s bad enough they painted flames on him, but to deprive him of his trailer this long was just criminal. The minute I saw that, I nearly pissed myself. With his trailer, Optimus is whole. Having said that, I think they sort of wasted it. I think there was one scene where he actually used it. He was driving around with it 2 or 3 times, and lost it before the final battle. That was almost as bad as having BA’s van appear in the first 10 minutes of The A-Team before being destroyed.

The new robots that were introduced here didn’t really have much of an impact, except for Sentinel, who turned out to be the main villain, Laserbeak, an assassin (he talks in the film, but not in the cartoon, which I actually liked), and Shockwave, who actually wasn’t really developed as well as he could have been.

What I mean by that is Shockwave was built up as the film’s main villain when the first posters came out back in the winter. Unfortunately, he’s only in two scenes, and both of those he barely gets any kind of development. He just randomly pops up under Chernobyl and then appears agin in Chicago with this massive drill that is responsible for most of the destruction, actually.

I said in my review of Revenge of the Fallen that Megatron should not be looked on as someone else’s patsy, of sorts. Now, while he doesn’t have the role in this film, he is barely in it, and has this weird desert bum look going on.

Sentinel Prime is impressive, and the voice of Leonard Nimoy was perfect for him. The only issue I have with him is that his facial design resembles that of Alpha Trion from the original series. when I saw him in the Super Bowl spot, that’s who I thought it was.

The humans are worthless in the picture, just face it. Having said that, the new additions didn’t hurt the film.

Patrick Dempsey actually made quite the diabolical villain. I would have never guessed that from him.

John Malkovich and Frances McDormand really shine in their roles. I questioned their casting when I first heard about them, but I’m glad they were chosen.

I’m sure you all heard about how Megan Fox called Michael Bay a Nazi and “decided not to return”, right? Well, her replacement, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, may have never acted a day in her life, but she sure is a much better actress that Fox. Granted that’s not saying much, but she at least looks like she was trying and was interested. With Fox, she just seemed so…not there, and while I can’t but Carly and Sam, they are a more believable couple than Mikayla and Sam.

Finally, John Turtrro returns. Somehow he got rich and has an assistant, played by Alan Tudyk who is one of the true scene stealer of the film.

The film is a bit longer than I would have liked. I think they just spend too much time on the humans, and not enough on who people watch these films for (contrary to what Shia LeBeouf thinks), that Transformers. However, it kept my attention the entire runtime, which is something next to impossible to accomplish. Yes, the film has its flaws, but it is a joy from start to finish. The most important thing to realize is that each of the films in this franchise, similar to the Harry Potter films have improved. You have to judge for yourself which is the best, but many are saying this is it. I highly recommend you get up right now and go see it!

5 out of 5 stars

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