Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
★ / ★★★★
When Americans landed on the moon in 1969, astronauts discovered the remains of Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), a deactivated robot of alien origin. Fast-forward to the twenty-first century, the rivalry between the Decepticons, robots that want to enslave the human race, led by Megatron (Hugo Weaving), and Autobots, robots that protect mankind, led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), reach overdrive. Lacking proper means of transportation to return home, the evil Decepticons plan to use Sentinel Prime, former leader of the Autobots, to teleport their planet onto Earth.
Written by Ehren Kruger and directed by Michael Bay, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is filled with noises of metals scraping against each other, swish-swoosh of zigzagging bullets, and characters yelling orders or simply out of frustration. Its attempt to inject a human aspect to the war between the robot races is obvious and barely there. In addition, the picture lacks an identifiable protagonist.
Sam (Shia LaBeouf) is a recent college graduate without a job. But life is still good somehow because he has a spankin’ new hot girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), who is more than happy to provide him daily meals. The first third of the film showcases Sam whining because he fails to acquire a fancy job right after he graduated from an Ivy League school. And since, as he mentions more than once, he saved the world twice and received a medal from the president, he feels that he should be regarded highly in society. In a other words, Sam is a narcissistic jerk who thinks a good life should come to him. Not for a second did I feel sorry for him nor did the screenplay attempt to get us to like him.
I wished the picture has focused more on the government employees, like Mearing (Frances McDormand), who has special clearance to certain kinds of information. I believe that if Sam’s character is completely excised from the film, the material would have had a chance to make characters like Mearing to be more multidimensional. At this point in the franchise, an unexpected twist might have been a great idea: she is a strong woman who does not need macho men to make decisions for her. Instead, Mearing ends up looking like a stuck-up government official instead of bona fide leader who has to make difficult choices for her country.
The action sequences still consist of junk flying around although there is one that really impressed me. While the soldiers’ plane is slowly being destroyed by the Decepticons, they have to jump before it explodes and, equipped with a wingsuit, have to navigate their way through the massive skyscrapers of Chicago. The scene gave me goosebumps because, for a second or two, the booming score is absent and all we hear is the air gliding along the suits. The Nuclear Emergency Support Team are not necessarily important characters in the film but I caught myself really caring about whether they will land safely. That is more than I can say about Sam, his girlfriend, and the robots.
I did not get the impression that the director made “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” with true passion. If he did, he would, in the least, have given the picture a proper ending. The way it ends reminded me of how young children would end a story: right after the climax, they would cutely say, “The End.” Essentially, the same thing happens here but far less cute.