If there is any doubt as to what Michael Bay is best at, Transformers: Dark of the Moon has solidified him as being the master of extremely big and expensive explosions. Sometimes he films these explosions and sells them as “movies”. Other times I’m pretty sure he just goes into his backyard and blows things up just to see them explode.
With that being said, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is exactly what was to be expected from Michael Bay. Lots of explosions, giant robots fighting, and well.. some more explosions.
There isn’t much more to talk about action-wise. There were lots of explosions. Giant robots kicked each others asses. There. It’s done.
But there’s a bit more to be said about the story and dialogue.
If you are reading this, then there is a good chance that you saw the first two movies, Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The first Transformers had a fairly straightforward plot: Some bad robots come to Earth to find something of theirs, good robots find out and show up too. The bad guy’s revive their badass leader, Megatron, who is apparently the most evil bad bad guy ever. The good guys, lead by Optimus Prime, fight and kill the bad guys, hooray! Oh and some of the bad guys escaped to fight another day (or movie).
The second movie was… well… a bit more ridiculous, a bit more confusing, and generally left you wondering what the hell just happened other than robots fighting. The plot of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen went something like this…
Many many years ago some really powerful robots killed stars for food, one of them tried to kill our Sun, and the rest of the robots didn’t like that, so they killed themselves to stop the one guy, and re-named him “The Fallen” because… he fell? Then Megatron came back and it turns out he’s not the biggest most evil bad guy, The Fallen is and he’s Megatron’s boss. Fighting ensues, one of the humans gets a metal boomerang from dead robots and the good robots blow up a giant space gun and kill The Fallen and Megatron runs off like a baby.
Confused yet? Probably? That’s what I thought.
Well luckily the third movie, Dark of the Moon has a much simpler plot that actually makes sense (for the most part). Since the plot was a lot less confusing, it allowed the movie to focus on two things, and two things only, the acting and the fighting.
The fighting we’ve already talked about, giant robots ripping the crap out of each other always looks awesome, and there were more robot fighting than you could shake two fists at.
It seems like the director, Michael Bay, gave everyone a bit of advice that probably went something like this…
Hey Shia, good job, but could you put a bit more comedy into it? You remember how John Turturro (the Sector 7 guy) just did all his lines? He said every line like a real smart-aleck. So yeah, do your lines like him. Better yet, everyone here in the movie, do your lines like John! Be funny!
And that is how every character felt. It seemed like a Michael Bay movie on Speed because of the high-intensity-smart-alecky characters at every turn. At one point the main character, Sam (Shia LaBeouf) tried getting into a high security base. He had no credentials other than the fact that he’s Sam freaking Witwicky, which means he should be allowed in. What then ensues is five minutes of Sam yelling at armed soldiers and them just standing there taking it without punching him or patting him down once. I’m pretty sure that in real life Sam would have had the crap beaten out of him for trying to break into an extremely high-security facility.
At no point in the movie did the dialog seem believable. I thought it was some sort of massive joke that the government was letting Sam take such a big part in all of this since he has no military training and has always shown a lack of self control in high-risk situations (See Transformers 1 and 2).
As usual there is a complete disconnect between humans and robots as well. The transformers are supposed to be sentient robots, their personalities are like our own, they just happen to be made of medal. They work with us humans side by side to fight Decepticons (evil robots). They should seem like equals, right? Well they don’t. No matter how many times Optimus claims that they work with humans as equals, it’s a lie. The Autobots (the good robots) always look down on humans like they are vaguely annoying bugs. They rarely take them seriously and any scene with the two races talking to each other feels like a one-sided argument where the giant robot wins because he’s a giant robot, regardless of what the puny human just said.
This confusing disconnect makes it hard to care about the transformers when they have their own problems. Instead of feeling upset for the Autobots when one of their own dies, I found myself not really caring. Who cares if one of them dies? They just look down on us anyways because we are smaller than them and made of flesh and blood. They may save two or three humans sometimes, but in order to save those two they probably destroyed a bridge that had about 200 people on it. All dead. Great job Optimus.
What the movie comes down to is sloppy writing. These robots will go to great lengths to save Sam and his girlfriend but they just watch as Decepticons DESTROY Chicago potentially killing thousands. If the Autobots really care about Earth then they should be making earlier harder attempts to help us.
To an extent it is a futile effort on my part to try and point out the writing flaws on a movie about giant robots fighting each other. But if I don’t point out the problems, then who will? If Hollywood writers start to think that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a well written movie, then we will continue to see more and more of the same instead of seeing a smartly written action movie. I’m still holding my breath on that one.