Plot: The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets. (IMDB)
Thoughts: Bang! Boom! Crash! These words used to mean so much more. Plastered across the pages of Batman and Spiderman, the heroes we loved most and eventually onto the screen, chasing our idols into their action-packed adventures. Sadly, with the words now at a stand-still, and realism gripping Hollywood in a tight-fisted grip, these words are no long portrayed as fun, frothy and exciting. Instead they are used much more literally, forcing their message onto the silver screen as special effects heavy blockbusters, little on plot, but heavy on the banging, the booming and the crashing. Together, we witnessed the very birth of this, the tent-pole movie, a genre in itself which has been raped and pillaged by one man in particular. Michael Bay.
When done correctly, the tent-pole movie can be exciting and rather fulfilling; a fun-filled romp and a decent time at the movies, no alcohol or abusive substances required. Sadly, when you plant Ehren Kruger and Mr Michael Bay in a room with none other than Steven Spielberg, this is not the product.
The Transformers franchise originally blasted its way onto screens in 2007, Bay’s first effort behind the big-movie adaptation of the beloved children’s series being widely received by both fans and critics. The relatable characters, witty jokes and pressing action concocted well together, startling many to say that Bay had finally done it. He had made a good movie. And so, the careers of its stars Shia La Boeuf and Megan Fox were alight. 2 years later the planet came to a stand-still as the inevitable sequel rushed into theaters with many rushing in after it. After becoming one of the highest grossing films of the year, the ball dropped. The film was bad. It lacked the wit and pounding story of its predecessor, instead replaced with harmfully unfunny scrotum-related jokes, bitchy confrontations and excessively dull robot battles filmed so closely, it was impossible to tell what was going on. However, due to the exceedingly positive box-office returns, a third was born.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon was, to many, doomed before even its genesis. The title alone shows little consideration for recent pop-culture, recent history or even reason entirely. The franchise has become the cinematic equivalent of an ‘everything-in-the-fridge-casserole’ to Michael Bay. He’s simply turned to precisely seeing what he can do with what he’s already got, maybe seasoning when he can with tiny glimpses of new faces. The plot is unsurprisingly incoherent and only partially present throughout the films rather bloated running time, instead sidelined for a segment Mr Kruger likes to call ‘The Pointless Adventures of Sam Witwicky and his endless line of hazardously beautiful girlfriends’.
Shia’s back as the obnoxious teen-turned-adult, now broke and having been dumped by the smoking hot Megan Fox (a ploy allowing Spielberg to fire her after some ‘un-tasteful’ comments were made) and now living, rent-free with the smoking hot Rosie Huntington-Whitely, a talentless doll of a replacement. The original appeal of the young Sam was that he was relatable enough for kids to see themselves as him. A hapless teen who stumbles upon a secret race of super-aliens which masquerade as transforming robots. Relatable is he no longer. Thrust into the competitive world of job hunting post-college, we follow Sam as he struggles his way through his passionate relationship with a wealthy Victoria’s Secret model and her charmingly smarmy, yet playfully generous new boss. The plot unfolds off the back of his torturous predicament, as expected, Huntington Whitely pouts for the camera, and the explosions are abound.
At last the Autobots and Decepticons take to the streets, battling it out over the long lost something-or-other to save the day and rescue the fate of their already deceased planet Cybertron for the fiftieth time this year. Many hapless plot twists and history-related hijinks later, and Michael Bay has not only crucified the human soul, but nailed a great big, fat damages bill through it simultaneously. The robot battles are slightly more up-stream in relation to the 2nd effort however, the rather essential use of 3D playing a big part in forcing Bay to stay at a distance from the action, allowing us to finally marvel at its merciless slaughtering. Had this been humans and not monstrous robots, blood and not motor oil, we’d be looking at a war movie of the most brutal calibre. This does not however, make up for the fact that the fights are indeed the main attraction. Anything that exists outside the robot boxing ring is simply to link each clash of metal together.
It is through these dire junctions that the film makes way for its long-list of pointlessly calamitous celebrity cameos. Deep breath: John Malkovich descends into the pit of gracelessness as Sam’s tragically unfunny boss, Frances McDormand as the Chief of the FBI Task Force for something that’s never mentioned, a surprisingly decent performance which is seized of all enjoyment by the contradiction of her character’s actions. Ken Jeong reminds us why he’s Asian in a rather frenzied attempt at milking his 5 minutes of screen time (an attempt which fails to entertain in even the slightest) and finally Alan Tudyk, respectable actor and thespian, loses all hope as the ludicrously parodic German assistant (jokingly named Dutch… ha ha) to John Turturro’s returning Agent Simmons. Or is that former-agent Simmons? Who knows. Who cares.
As we swan heartlessly into the 3rd and thankfully, final act, we’re surprisingly treated to a majestically short 5 minute glimpse at what could have been. As the shit hits the fan and for some reason, the Decepticons seize control of Chicago (and so, take over the world) for a mere few minutes we’re subjected to a harmfully impure but tragically beautiful montage of human annihilation. The streets are christened with fire, the screams turn to echoes and the broken civilization of corporate America becomes crushed beneath the metallic boots of the (still poorly voiced) Decepticons. All is quiet but for the royally brutal slaughter of humanity. Any sense of beauty that ever existed within the franchise is present at this single moment, a fleeting surprise, snatched away in its dying seconds by the return of the Autobots (were they gone?). Following Bay’s emotional epiphany, the third act gets down and dirtier with the action, launching head-first into an hour long barrage on the senses. Buildings topple, robot soldiers are ripped limb from limb and Rosie Huntington-Whitely becomes the human equivalent of a Barbie doll. It is here where the 3D must indeed be praised, offering one of the only redeeming features to this rather unintelligent bombardment of nothingness.
Once the brain-boiling action eventually does fizzle down to little more than a fragrant stand-off and an inspiringly dreary speech, Bay raps up fast; an abrupt but justified end to one of the most degrading and moronic trilogies ever committed to film. The mass human extermination all but forgotten. The final installment in such an epicly inconsiderate franchise of garbage is indeed an unwelcome but non-torturous experience. The visuals offer enough eye candy to satisfy the most feeble-minded of viewers but of course, the lack of intelligent story-telling and sub-standard acting will not appease the masses. It’s an improvement on the Autobots’ second outing (which can’t be considered a particularly worthwhile defence) but is still nothing more than a glorified fireworks display of a toy advert. For best results, watch whilst comatose.