After a fine first effort in the action/adventure department with “Transformers,” the series ran into major writer’s block (as well as a writer’s strike) with the horrid second installment, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” And while still not up to the inaugural’s standard, the newest release, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, is a decent addition and captures — somewhat — that movie’s intense action scenes, as well as much of the humor.
It actually could have been even better, believe it or not, if not for the female lead. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (I never thought I would miss the acting talents of Megan Fox), is quite literally nothing but eye candy in high heels.
After the confusion of the end of part two, with no one knowing what was going on and which robot was fighting which, Transformers: Dark of the Moon begins with the defeated Decepticons in exile while the Autobots are involved in an uneasy co-operation with their human hosts. Acting as international peacekeepers, they are soon called upon to answer a decades-old rumor about beings on the Moon, as well as other alien conspiracies.
When Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) travels to the lunar surface to bring back his former leader, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), with several “space bridge” pillars, a plan is fomented that may bring the robots back to the brink of war again — with the measly humans once again caught in the middle. Meanwhile, Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is trying to secure a low-level entry position in a company run by the wacky John Malkovich (this despite dating an international supermodel) and is no longer involved with his former robotic pals.
At this firm, he runs into the spaced-out Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong, “The Hangover Part II“) and learns of the goings-on over at the dark side of the Moon. Also in place is former CIA agent Seymour Simmons (John Turturro, “Cars 2“), and current Central Intelligence deputy director, Mearing (Frances McDormand). When the Primes begin to fight amongst themselves, exiled Megatron (voice of Hugo Weaving) makes its long awaited appearance.
Battle sequences are appropriately loud and violent in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, while the addition of blood pouring from the gaping wounds of the machines will be a welcome sight for most 14-year-old boys in the audience. The decibels are still there from part two, but the distractions have been kept to a minimum.
Director Michael Bay, who learned the art of subtly and nuance on the set of “Pearl Harbor” also wisely puts back much of the comedic touch that made the original so successful. Sure, Sam’s dopey parents are still here (thankfully, for just a few scenes), but there are some real laughs in this version. Malkovich, Jeong, Turturro and Alan Tudyk are the one’s responsible for most of the giggles.
As far as the CGI work, it’s something we have come to expect from this franchise, but the work is seamless in this film, as well; and with apocalyptic conflicts going on — with half of the city of Chicago destroyed — the graphics department acquitted themselves nicely. Overall, Transformers: Dark of the Moon does what it sets out to do, entertain the masses and rake in millions at the box office.
It’s not Shakespeare, but I did not expect it to be. It’s a two-plus hour ride that will leave one mentally unstimulated but a bit physically exhausted. And during the long hot days of summer, that’s not an entirely bad thing.