Although I try my best not to compare two movies that are indirect sequels (where the story isn’t dependent on seeing the prior film), this time it may have helped. Since I was so disappointed in the second installment of the series, I went into Transformers: Dark of the Moon with fairly low expectations. However, in some aspects, I really was impressed. Yet others disappointed.
We find Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) out of college and jobless, but living with his super-model quality girlfriend Carly.(Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) in Washington, D.C. She works for a rich businessman, Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), who seems a little too interested in both Sam and Carl
y at times, which Sam takes as an interest in a girl that is clearly out of his league.
Meanwhile, the Autobots have learned that one of their long lost ships, the Ark, was found years earlier on the Moon. This ship was piloted by Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) and holds a long lost technology that could have won the war on Cybertron for the Autobots. As the Decepticons emerge from hiding and start to make their movie, both sides are put into a battle over Earth and humanity.
We posted recently about director Michael Bay who discussed his work on the visual effects of this film. The 3D work is extremely well done; they’re doing a great job of using the technology to enhance the picture of the film, instead of using it as a gimmick to fling stuff at the audience and make them duck. If they continue to utilize 3D technology in this fashion, I could definitely see it as something that is here to stay, and I may not mind it too much.
However, ever since the end of the first movie, Michael Bay has been struggling to find a reason to keep Shia LaBeouf’s character Sam Witwicky around, aside from a bit of comedic relief. His character’s role could have easily been taken on by almost anyone playing a soldier, or anyone else for that matter. He’s involved back with the Autobots on sheer luck, but at least it beats having visions. And, for most of the movie, when he’s onscreen he comes across as insecure and needy at the thought of someone else eyeing his girlfriend.
Speaking of, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley easily eases the pain of losing Megan Fox. She does a pretty good job with what little she has, and is comfortable as the damsel in distress or eye-candy. While I’m sure some will disagree, I found her performance more rooted and believable than LaBeouf’s; it was a good contrast to keep him from flying too far away.
There were some excellent small roles in this film, such as Ken Jeong as Jerry Wang, the creepy business executive (if you’ve seen his work in either Community or the Hangover movies, you’ll understand why it’s both creepy and funny when he has two guns aimed at the screen in 3D). Alan Tudyk as Dutch, Simmons’ assistant, was an unexpected treat, and John Malkovich is always a pleasure to have on the screen. Unfortunately these actors didn’t get the true attention they deserved, and served to create only a couple great scenes.
The action scenes, when it was more than the Decepticons stalking humans around Chicago, were done very well. But it was usually the story being conveyed during these scenes that were difficult to swallow. In one, Optimus becomes tangled up in some large construction wires, which seemed just to keep him out of the way for other strange plot points to evolve. Not to mention some gaping story holes and motives for particular characters made some scenes difficult to bear.
In short, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was visually amazing, entertaining at times, but really had some misplaced focus (LaBeouf) and spent too little time following the story’s main characters, the Transformers.
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