What a shitty piece of garbage. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is actually worse than you’ve heard and also fucking boring. It has zero narrative connecting events in the first half of the movie to the latter, and it literally ends because there is no one left to brutally murder. Oh and the action sucks. You might have heard that Dark of the Moon is better than the second Transformers movie that everyone involved agreed was terrible(after the fact). I’m sure they’ll say the same thing about this one too in a couple years.
Believe it or not, the moon landing was spurred on because a Autobot ship crashed there and the U.S. government wanted first crack at it before the Soviets so an animatronic/stock footage JFK sent NASA into action to retrieve the ship first. Michael Bay tries to get creative in presenting a convincing CGI Kennedy but fails miserably and instead gives us something out of Disney’s Hall of Presidents. He also has some shots of CGI Kennedy that have the same film texture as the Zapruder films because why not. There is a very lazy shot of a Fake Nixon on the phone with the Apollo 11 astronauts. Fake Nixon sits slighty out of focus in the background while the foreground has a monitor showing actual footage of the real Nixon on the phone, except real Nixon is moving his lips while the fake Nixon is clearly just sitting there.
All of the 60’s flashback stuff is delivered with the utmost seriousness and I paid attention since I assumed that this information would relate to events later on in the film. NOPE. Like so many things that occur in these movies, this is just a thing that happened to the Transformers and we don’t need to think about it anymore. There is a shot late in the film where a bunch of Decepticons rise out of the surface of the moon, but no indication of how they got there is ever given. I guess they crashed another time but we didn’t go back up to check because Patrick Dempsey’s dad cut NASA’s funding. Everything you know is a lie.
Shia LaBeouf’s character Sam is an asshole in this film. He’s a prick to everyone; his parents, his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s boss, Bumblebee, random government personel, and job interviewers. His sense of entitlement is unbearable and frankly unearned.
Sam’s plot at the beginning of the film is some lame horseshit about not being able to find a job out of college even though he went to an Ivy League school. Super sympathetic plot, yo. Before we meet Sam again though we meet his girlfriend’s ass, which Bay lovingly shoots as she ascends the stairs, sans pants. The only attractive shots in the entire film are of women and cars, Michael Bay’s true passions. He also loves boats(The Island). Megan Fox has been replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who accomplishes the impossible by making me miss Megan Fox. Fox’s character Mikaela was a gearhead and automobile enthusiast. She was a woman with a story(of sorts) and genuinely interested in Sam. Huntington-Whiteley’s Carly is a lazy fill-in, introduced as a White House intern who then goes to work for Patrick Dempsey’s classic car restoration business because they used to race cars together? What? Wikipedia states:
Initially cast to play Mikaela’s boss, Dempsey’s role was reassigned when Mikaela was written out of the film.
Reassigned in the sense that the scriptwriter did word replace with “Mikaela” and put in “Carly” instead.
Sam goes to a series of interviews where he’s a douche and doesn’t get any offers before meeting with John Malkovich. This entire sequence serves no purpose but to pad out the running time because Michael Bay wants you leaving that theater with those pants done pissed, boy. Ken Jeong shows up for ten or so minutes of gay panic and “funny” behavior before a Decepticon pushes him out of a window to his death. Malkovich tells everyone to get back to work because “you all know what happens when someone falls out of building”. Casually brushing off the death of a human being is a Bay trademark. You could say the death of Jeong’s character is Transformers: Dark of the Moon‘s “That is how you shoot” moment.
MEANWHILE, various ancillary characters, ‘Bot, ‘Con, and ‘man discussed the discovery of an autobot engine part found in Chernobyl. Turns out the U.S. government never told ol’ Optimus Prime about the how’s and why’s of the space program and the spaceship that is done lodged itself into the crust of the moon. Optimus Prime is pretty pissed about this but then they introduce him to Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin says it is “an honor” to meet Optimus Prime and Optimus is all no, no, it’s an honor to meet you, Buzz Aldrin. This scene is kinda funny and sad, you guys. Also, it fucking exists forever.
Optimus Prime and some other Autobots go to the moon and retrieve Sentinel Prime from the crashed space ship. Turns out he was Optimus Prime’s old boss and that when he disappeared Optimus Prime got promoted. Optimus is a standup dude and after he revives Sentinel Prime they go sight seeing in Africa and Sentinel Prime makes some in hindsight ominous statements about how great Earth is.
Well, turns out ol’ Sentinel Prime is a jerky turncoat. When he flew away from the battle of Cybertron(don’t ask) it wasn’t to get help or whatever, it was to join the Decepticons. I know.
Optimus Prime feels bad about trusting Sentinel Prime and that that trust lead to the death of a fellow autobot and a bunch of people on the freeway. Sentinel Prime teams up with Megatron(voiced by Agent Smith!) and they tell the United Nations to ban all of the Autobots from the Earth. The U.N. folds like fucking oragami and says sure, shoot those fuckers into space, you guys seem like ok people.
MEANWHILE again, Sam learns that Patrick Dempsey is actually Evil Patrick Dempsey, in cahoots with the Decepticons due to the fact that his father was also in cahoots with Decepticons and one can only assume that Evil Patrick Dempsey’s children will also be forced into an alliance with the Decepticons as well. Dempsey forces Sam to wear an evil Decepticon watch(sorry, I couldn’t see what brand. A rare product placement miss for T:DOTM) that will allow the Decepticons to eavesdrop on Sam’s conversations with Optimus Prime and also force Sam to act like he is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. I would hate to have the job of listening in on conversations with Optimus Prime because Optimus Prime is boring. Seriously, he gives about five to ten speeches during Transformers: Dark of the Moon and they’re all about trust and legacy and whatever you know all of the other autobots tune that shit out too. If only it’d been Optimus with the vocal cord issues instead of Bumblebee.
Sam asks Optimus Prime what his plan is after they get shot into space and Optimus Prime says, “No plan, Sam. We’re just going to sit around in space. Whatev’s. See you, be brave, the power of greyskull, silverhawks, I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Then the Autobots are launched into space and a Decepticon flys over and blows up the spaceshuttle, visually evoking the horror and sadness of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion. Does Michael Bay have a tattoo of the word “classy” on his body because if not he should totally get one. Everyone is sad about the autobots dyin- Wait. No, I’m sorry. No one is really that upset about the autobots. No one reacts in any way that would indicate that the robotic characters who have inhabited the last two films of this series have horrifically perished in a space shuttle explosion. I guess that is what I should expect from a film that also doesn’t acknowledge the fact that in the last film the Decepticons revealed their existence to the planet and then demanded the world turn over Sam and yet every new person Sam meets in this movie has no idea who he is. HIS FACE AND NAME WAS BEAMED AROUND THE WORLD DURING AN ALIEN INVASION! C’mon, somebody must remember that.
The Decepticons promptly set up base in the center of the world, Chicago, and begin their plan of blowing it to pieces. Sentinel Prime sets up some bars or some shit to begin the process of remaking Earth like Cybertron, even though Earth’s climate is pretty hospitable to Autobots and Decepticons. Based on the damage they do to our architecture, perhaps they just hate our design sense. Evil Patrick Dempsey explains to Not Megan Fox (as he drags her from room to room in Trump Tower) that the Decepticons are going to need humans as slave labor to recreate Cybertron on Earth and Evil Patrick Dempsey just needs to squeak out forty more years of life, even if it is as a slave of Decepticons. Now, considering that the only skill set displayed by Decepticons(and Autobots) is changing their appearance and destroying anything and everything they encounter, I would have been genuinely interested in the Decepticon’s plans for construction of a New Cybertron. Are there blueprints and specs? Training videos for your new slave labor so that your Decepticon Split Level is built to the correct specifications? I must express some doubt on how much rebuilding the Decepticons planned this human slave labor to do since they spend most of their time murdering people. Some are crushed, others vaporized into bones. This goes on for awhile. No additional demands are ever issued by the Decepticons for the human population to surrender and begin work on the Decepticons Only cyber golf course.
Sam teams up with Tyrese(Hey! Tyrese! Good to see you. Fast Five was great!) and his friends and they decide to storm Chicago and save Sam’s girlfriend? Yes, save Sam’s girlfriend. Not defeat the Decepticons, just save the girlfriend. They get about a mile into city limits and Tyrese admits that it is just too hard and that they should go back home and get ready to work for Cybertron McDonald’s. But then Optimus Prime shows up! Holy shit! I thought that guy was dead! “No,” says Optimus Prime, clearing up that confusion. Turns out the Autobots snuck out of the Space Shuttle right before it exploded. This is not shown and no one asks any other questions.
HOUR LONG ACTION SEQUENCE!
Various Transformers crap happens. A professor autobot gives Sam a weapon and later is murdered, execution style. Have I mentioned that this movie for children is very callous and blasé about murder and death? Anyway, this whole sequence isn’t very good. In fact, it is very bad. Events and encounters occur with no indication given towards geography and locations. Characters fly in and blow up shit at random and disappear and reappear as they are required for the action sequence itself to “work”. Since having any autobots during the 9/11 sequence would diminish the danger, they are all curiously M.I.A. I call it the 9/11 sequence since Sam, Tyrese and gang are inside a toppling building, falling out of windows and screaming. Seriously Michael, think about that tattoo.
Optimus Prime flys around and after destroying a random Decepticon he becomes tangled in some wire. I’m pretty sure he was stuck there for about twenty minutes of screen time before some other Autobots cut him down. I wonder what he thought about when he was strung up there. Do you think he pondered the strange twists and turns his life had taken? Did he perhaps find a dark humor in his situation, hanging upside down under a bridge while others fought for humanity’s future? Y’know what, let’s never ask him because I’m sure the answer is nothing that interesting.
Eventually, Optimus Prime faces off against Sentinel Prime. Sentinel Prime tears off Optimus’s arm, but then Megatron appears and sucker punchs Sentinel Prime because Not Megan Fox called Megatron a pussy. How did that happen, you wonder? Oh, Not Megan Fox found Megatron sitting in an alley and said, “You know, Sentinel Prime thinks you’re a Megapussy, Megatron.”
Optimus Prime thanks Megatron by ripping out his spinal cord(that’s what it looked like) and chopping off Sentinel Prime’s head. Then Optimus Prime started on with another speech and I think but I’m not sure that they cut him off and went to the Directed by Michael Bay card.
As the credits rolled on Transformers: Dark of the Moon a Linkin Park song began playing and a man sitting behind me loudly sang along. This was unexpected to say the least and unbelievable as it continued while his seatmates calmly discussed the film and then departed the theater, singer in tow.
There is an article in GQ this month that offers a oral history of Michael Bay. It’s a fun read but it’s existence is Bay and his defenders doth protesting too much. For all the talk of Bay’s skill at “awesome” it would be self evident. But over and over again this has proven to not be the case. The Transformers movies have crammed in romance, drama, comedy and action and failed at all of them. The best you can say about the rest of Bay’s career is consistent mediocrity. Everyone who has followed in Bay’s footsteps(McG!) have not achieved similar box office clout and thus lack the defenders that Bay has acquired. Michael Bay is the movie industry’s Goldman Sach’s, too big to fail. If Michael Bay wanted to answer his critics he’d make a good movie. Simple as that. That he hasn’t is either a testament to his stubborness or more likely, a lack of ability.