Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (2011)

DVD Cover (Paramount)
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Overall Rating 62%
Overall Rating
Ranked #322
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Connections: Transformers

Picking up two years after the Egypt incident, the Autobots and their human allies discover a lost piece of Cybertronian technology which has been in human possession for several years. It is revealed that the artifact is part of an Autobot spacecraft which has crashed on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon and carries a special technology and the legendary Sentinel Prime (Optimus Prime's old mentor). However, Sam Witwicky discovers a conspiracy by the Decepticons who plot to use it for their own evil purposes. And Optimus Prime finds that they are up against a menace who plans to also use it to enslave humanity in order to restore Cybertron. --IMDb
Review by Crispy
Added: August 22, 2011
After loathing the first sequel as much as I did, I had absolutely no intention of seeing Dark of the Moon; but my brother was in town and he wanted to see it, so I grabbed the first two out of the library and we had an all-day Transformers marathon. Despite my initial feelings, I actually liked it.

In the on-going battle against the Decepticons, NEST has been contacted by the Russian government. Apparently, the devastating Chernobyl accident of 1986 was more than just a nuclear meltdown, but the result of the Soviets trying to utilize alien technology they had found on the moon. Said technology seems to be a hot commodity, however, because as Colonel Lennox and his team are investigating the plant, they are ambushed by the Decepticon Shockwave. After getting the technology to Optimus, the warrior is infuriated that the humans have been withholding information, but he reveals that the device is a fuel cell from The Ark, a ship that left Cybertron during the war but was shot down on departure. It had apparently drifted through space before crashing on Earth's moon. Optimus claims that in the cargo hold of that ship is a weapon that could have won the war for the Autobots, so a mission is quickly underway to retrieve it before the Decepticons can. They do retrieve a small part of the weapon, including the main control component, but they've also found something perhaps even more valuable: the original leader of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime. Meanwhile, our old friend Sam isn't doing to well in Washington DC. Fresh out of college, he's living with his new girlfriend Carly, who is currently covering the rent because Sam can't find a job to save his life. In desperation, he eventually settles on working in a mailroom of a corporation, where he's recognized and ambushed by one of his coworkers. Turns out he has information on The Ark, and when he too is killed by Decepticons soon after, Sam realizes that he has once again been thrust into the machines' war.

When I watched it the other night, I actually enjoyed Revenge of the Fallen a little bit, almost in spite of myself. Don't get me wrong, I still stand by every criticism made in that review, especially the overabundance of comic relief characters and juvenile humor, and I am extremely happy that all of this was nixed in the third release. Leo and the Smartcar twins were both removed without explanation, while Simmons, the Witwicky parents and Wheelie were all calmed down exponentially, and the humor was a few levels beyond robot balls and testicle tazing. Personally, I was ecstatic they took this route, but the kiddies may not be so pleased. Case in point, my thirteen year old brother preferred the second by a long shot. Anyway, not only did they remove all the nut jokes, but they went the completely opposite way in the film's overall tone. Indeed, this is most definitely the darkest film of the trilogy, and it focuses more on the realities of the war. After two movies of fighting, this battle has become extremely personal for both sides, and they pulled no punches in showing the devastation of both a life of war and losing comrades. Considering Bay has said this is the concluding chapter of the trilogy, he didn't think twice about killing off some key characters that have been with us since the beginning, and some of these deaths are done in blatant execution style. Definitely a far cry from the last two movies.

Speaking of far cries from the preceding films, the transformers themselves actually got in some decent screen-time this go-around. On the Autobots side of the table, Jolt, Arcee and the twins have all disappeared without explanation, but they've received some new recruits in the meantime. Dino (a red Ferrari who appropriately speaks with an Italian accent), Wheeljack (a weapons inventor), and the Wreckers, three race cars who are more content to tear their enemies apart limb from limb than shoot them. Also, the bladed Corvette from the last film, Sideswipe, finally gets some time to shine, which I was very happy to see. The Decepticons, for their part, only added two new additions, but what an addition it is. The first isn't anything to get excited about, Lazorbeak is an assassin that stays in a vulture form, but the second one is scary as hell. Shockwave doesn't actually transform into anything, but he travels with a one hundred foot long underground snake that devours everything in its path. F-22 Starscream, police cruiser Barricade (survived the first and mysteriously absent in the second) and Soundwave (who has descended from orbit) and Megatron are also accounted for. Since then, Megatron has traded his tank/jet hybrid for a more suitable desert rig, with a shotgun-wielding hermit-esque robot mode to match. It's cheesy sure, but I really liked the aesthetic of it, and it fit the broken down character of this movie.

On the human side of the things, the big story was Megan Fox getting axed during pre-production. There's Story A from Megan Fox, Story B from Michael Bay, and what actually happened likely lying in between the two. The truth is, I couldn't care less either way. Sure, she's hot, but I don't find her to be the uber-sex goddess that everyone else makes her out to be, so it's a "whatever" from me on that front, and the girl couldn't act her way out of a paper bag, so her departure is a step-up on the other front. Fortunately, her replacement, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is definitely an improvement in the latter category, but I'm sure the teenaged pro-Fox crowd isn't crazy about the change since Carly isn't as explicitly sexual as Mikaela was, even if she does show a little ass in the opening moments. As for the franchise's main human star, Shia Lebouf was damned good here. I think it was the maturation of the character that really sold it for me. He's still the quick-talking smart ass he's been, but you can definitely see the effects that his frequent battles have had on him. For example, he was never one to back down to intimidation, but usually it was with a sarcastic insult before talking himself out of the situation. Now, he's a lot more aggressive; in fact, there were a few times I was waiting for him to drop a good ol' fashioned "Fuck you." It's a little thing sure, but it does go hand in hand with the darker tone I mentioned earlier.

Who would have expected this? I went in to Dark of the Moon almost against my will, expecting to hate it, and it wound up being my favorite of the trilogy. 7/10.
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