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Old 2011-08-29, 11:46 PM   #1
Blackjack's Avatar
Default DOTM Review [WIP]

Ah, Dark of the Moon. Unlike my experience of watching Revenge of the Fallen, I managed to stay away of all but the very earliest of the trailers and TV spots so as not to spoil myself for the big event.

That said, prequel comics aside (which we have established as misleading) I was entirely unspoilered as I went for the movie. I was blown away when I watched the first movie, I was blown away even more by Revenge of the Fallen... it was a safe bet that I would be impressed for the third movie... and I was cleanly blown off my shoes by the sheer improvement done by Bay and the team.

Everything terrible and annoying from Revenge of the Fallen has been exorcised thoroughly. The toilet jokes, overbearing crazy parents, fifteen minutes devoted to showing off the military deploying their stuff, airstrike wiping out the Decepticon troops, tanks wiping out entire groups of Decepticons... all of it, gone. Any sign of toilet humour is condensed into Jerry Wang, and innuendos by Wheelie and Brains. It’s a nice touch since we get easily-overlooked lines about gay toilet sex and panty drawers instead of robot testicles or robot humping. In previous movies, these jokes were barely tolerable, but here without any of them, Dark of the Moon improves a whole lot.

Characters are much more likeable this time, especially for the general skeptical moviegoer. Unlike Revenge of the Fallen where I reckon a good bit of the theater is rooting for Devastator to eat Leo and the Twins, this time around most of the good guys are so likeable, and the bad guys, especially Sentinel and Dylan, are so cruel and dickish that you really want them to get what’s coming to them. I do think that there is a good balance between Transformers and humans. Clearly these movies aren’t ensemble movies, and guys like Dino or Barricade would be like, say, those random alien rebels in Star Wars that only fans know the names of while the rest of the cinema thinks that they are ‘cool good guys’. Most Transformer fans (the non-haters, anyway) and people I’ve asked do agree that there’s a good balance between human and Transformer action scenes.

And not just on that either. Plot and storytelling are much more condensed, not going all around like Revenge. The plot focuses on the Space Bridge pillars, and instead of having an abstract figurehead like the Fallen, the main villain here is simply just great. We know what Sentinel is doing for the whole movie, whilst in ROTF the Fallen is just kind of… there. Sam Witwicky gets even greater development, and the Autobots are handled fantastically, with them being in the forefront of the climatic battle instead of NEST tanks. Audio-wise, Steve Jablonsky blows the first two movies off the water with the score. The basic tones are still there, but how it is performed... plus, there's a bit of that fast-paced, tense string that we hear during the trailers and the Dread chase which, in my opinion, is a great action theme. The music that plays whenever the Driller appears is a great villain theme as well. Eargasm! I particularly like the sorrowful variation on 'Arrival to Earth' that is played as the Autobots troop towards the Xantium. Also, while I usually hate random songs played in the middle of a movie, 'Iridescent' playing in the background in the stunned moment as Sam and Epps look at the devastated Chicago and realise that they’re f*cked fits so perfectly.

On the reverse side, however, I've heard complaints that Dark of the Moon was not quite a crazy roller coaster ride of constant action scenes like Revenge of the Fallen. But while I would like nothing better than to have mindless action scenes all around, I feel that the structuring in the third movie is much better. Granted, there wasn't a mid-movie high crowning moment of awesome like the forest battle in the second movie, but the Chicago scene more than makes up for it.

Visually, the movie blows both TFTM and ROTF away as well. I watched Dark of the Moon in the theatres twice, once in IMAX 3D and once in the regular theatres. Both are simply stunning, and the 3D adds much to the experience. Now we could debate how gimmickry 3D is all day long, but I am nonetheless impressed by the seamlessness and impressiveness of DOTM's 3D. The 3D did not hurt my eyes, not a bit, which in itself is a feat. Clearly taking Transformers and making it 3D is not a bad move, nosiree.

Pacing is so much better. Getting to one point to another flows smoother and does not feel as forced as ROTF bar the prisoner scene. The plot? Well, at first glance there seemed to be some problems with the Decepticons’ plot. Why weren’t the pillars used during ROTF? Why wasn’t the 200-strong Decepticon army used in ROTF? If Soundwave and company were here from the 60’s, why didn’t they do anything? Things like that. But these are pretty easily explained (which I would go to in the Notes section) with a little thought. More importantly, the movie’s pacing is so excellent that you don’t notice these plot details until afterwards. Though honestly I didn’t think they would pull the ‘old Transformer with a doomsday device’ thing after Revenge of the Fallen.

Oh, and between the second and third movie, Megan Fox was fired. Many people treat this as a big thing, and it is. Megan Fox is the female lead. Now when the groundbreaking news hit, there seemed to be two solutions to such a problem. The first would be to have a suspicious lookalike play Mikaela, which is stupid and would only incite more flames. Mikaela Banes is not really integral to the part that the role is necessary, unlike, say, the War Machine or Hulk in the Marvel movies that the actor has to be replaced. So Michael Bay does the other thing and writes Mikaela off. And it's done pretty smoothly too... I’m pleasantly surprised that there wasn’t any flaming in the film to Mikaela/Megan’s departure, but it isn’t really handled as too much of a big deal that we waste ten minutes explaining about how the girlfriend is changed. After all, in real life relationships break up all the time. Lines of dialogue between Wheelie, Brains and Sam's parents fulfill the job pretty well, so the movie isn't too jarring in that aspect. We'll get to whether Rosie is a decent replacement in a bit.

Two more major characters cut from the movie alongside Megan Fox are the Twins. Unlike Megan, whose disappearance is handwaved by characters in the movie (or Jolt, who I’m sure 90% of moviegoers don't even know he existed) the Twins' disappearance is a wee bit too jarring. Not even a 'we have had losses over the years' line from Optimus. Now in early scripts the Twins apparently were supposed to be killed off by Sentinel Prime, which would've been more dramatic. However, it would be hard to do this without a bit of a hypocritical ‘you hated the Twins, now we killed them, write us a good review’ vibe from Michael Bay. Still, since they were, next to Bumblebee and Optimus, the Autobots with the most dialogue in the second movie that kids and the general moviegoer might remember, it’s a bit of a jarring move not to mention them anywhere. Personally I was a bit surprised that Bay didn’t use them at all.

To a lesser extent, Leo is gone too. But I did not notice this fact until after I rewatched Revenge of the Fallen again because he’s really quite redundant.

So, that said, let's break down this mammoth of a movie.

It’s really no surprise that as the star Sam Witwicky is developed even more. Sam's dealing with real life stuff and insecurity. It's a very organic development from his ROTF persona. Real life turns sour because without the Autobots Sam's just another geeky guy who can't get a proper job. I really like how his insecurity is portrayed, especially when Dylan comes into the picture. His evolution up until he basically becomes a reluctant action hero in the second half of the movie is so well done. It's his thing, really, being a determinator despite having no clue whether his plan will work. Taking on Starscream (and later Dylan Gould) takes balls. He’s a very likeable lead. Without even realising it, Sam Witwicky has become one of the most developed characters in Transformers lore. It's well done; Sam's a great lead for both normal moviegoers and transfans alike.

Optimus Prime, undoubtedly, has become even more mental in this movie than the past. Peter Cullen is on fire, delivering each of Optimus Prime’s lines with so much gravitas that I melt a little every time Optimus speaks. Even a silly line like ‘I need that flight tech!’ sounds impressive under Peter Cullen. He gets the best action scenes too. That entrance where he basically clears two blocks’ worth of Decepticons plus Shockwave in a single breath is the mother of all big damn heroes moment. But he still is Optimus, with his little insecurity as a leader popping up when he offers the Matrix to Sentinel. There are also some excellent ‘humanization’ moments with the Autobots, like when Optimus Prime gives his silent treatment to the humans. The animators really made his expressions great, as when he arrives to see Sentinel destroying the NEST base… well, just look at his ‘oh crap’ expression. And how he loses his composure in his ‘NO, NO SENTINEL NO’… Optimus is made of sheer win. And in the finale, fighting Sentinel Prime, hounding his mentor down as he’s trying to escape… Optimus Prime is badass, no doubt. From his soft ‘we will kill them all’, to the screaming ‘YOU DIE’ and ‘time to find out’, as well as his kickass trailer-jetpack, Optimus Prime is undoubtedly the star of the show. He’s delightfully pragmatic, shooting down Decepticons left right and center. He’s more weary here, after being betrayed by his master and indirectly caused the destruction of major cities, and basically throws himself into the fray against impossible odds to kill them all. I very like how he chooses Earth, a place that is really his home where his friends are all are instead of Cybertron, a barren wasteland without any life in it, and insists on protecting Earth no matter what. And I like how, after seeing Megatron and Sentinel dead, he has this expression where he seems to be disgusted at all the killing he’s done and tosses away the gun.

Bumblebee also steals the show, although he and Sam aren’t quite joined at the hip anymore. There’s still great chemistry between the two. Mind, I absolutely love how Judy and Ron disses the not-Bumblebee substitute car Sam owns. Bumblebee’s still as crazy as before, hacking down Decepticons whenever he has the chance, being so damn cute… he’s truly the emotional center of the Autobots, something I can’t say for his blank G1 counterpart. I was actually worried when Soundwave held Bumblebee at gunpoint, in that rather long will-he-or-won’t-he-die moment… it had me at the edges. And when he says that final farewell to Sam (both in the shuttle scene and the Soundwave scene), well, it’s just heart-wrenching.

In a rare case of the new villain stealing the spotlight in a way that Fallen never managed to do is Sentinel Prime. Unlike the Fallen being absent and letting his troops do his dirty work from the second movie, Sentinel Prime is a more literal ‘fallen Prime’. It's very evident that Sentinel is, or used to be, a good guy, proved by his interactions with Optimus in that peaceful clearing. And Leonard Nimoy's calm, Spock-y voice lulls you to a sense of security. I have to admit that I did not see Sentinel's heel face turn coming, and him shooting Ironhide in the back came as a sudden shock. But you can see where Sentinel is going; he wants what is best for his own planet, and his race as a whole. He sees his protégé Optimus kowtow to the humans, and people like Mearing seem to think they can order him around… he really does seem like a good guy before he really goes mental and shoots Ironhide and makes the audience hate him. The motivations are a little foggy, with why he couldn’t rebuild Cybertron with the Autobots or things like that, but point is, Sentinel Prime is a crazy, hypocritical, self-justified villain which is pretty satisfying to watch. There are a lot of less evil options for him to take, but hey, the guy basically sees himself as a god, so… Leonard Nimoy nails down Sentinel perfectly, making Sentinel one of the few movie Transformers that is impressive both physically and character-wise. Star Trek in-jokes aside (which, because I’m not an avid watcher, I did not get at first) Sentinel comes off as a wise yet crazy and somewhat sadistic character. Any scene involving Sentinel and Optimus fighting are awesome.

Poor, poor Megatron is a mixed bag. Most certainly he’s got the short stick of the characterization, being the dragon to the Fallen in ROTF and now being Sentinel’s bitch in DOTM. His design is bitching awesome, no doubt, but I initially hated his relatively passive role and his stupid bum poncho, but after repeated viewings I grew to like him. I mean, the poor guy has his ass handed to him so many times… the poor guy still has half his face missing after a battle two years ago! He’s definitely depressed. I mean, if you’re, say, an egomaniac like Blofeld or Lex Luthor and you keep getting defeated by the heroes, surely at one point you’ll, oh, I dunno, drink yourself to a daze, right? It’s a unique take on the humbled Megatron, and while I don’t really like that he’s turned into this, it’s a pretty neat concept. He does retain his badassery up until Sentinel basically bitch-slaps him and shows him that he’s yesterday’s news… whereupon he basically shuts down and sits on the roadside moping. A bit emo, sure, but he’s pretty fun… and finding his purpose again, well, it’s a nice concept, if not handled particularly well. He feels too much like a third well, as a figurehead, than anything.

Starscream still serves as Megatron's sycophantic top flunky, obviously, and he's now a nice cross between the jet-killer of the first movie and the whiny bitch of the second movie. He’s still this cowardly, spitting little twat. Starscream's got some nice badass scenes when he shoots down the Ospreys and the Autobot shuttle, and is always beside Megatron and Sentinel Prime as a constant presence, but ultimately what people remember is his death scene via Sam. Yeah, all you GEEWUN fans cry and say how it ruins Transformers forever because Starscream is an awesome killing machine and shit. But I in particular quite liked Starscream's death, even during the first watching. Sam’s the hero, and killing Starscream is a mixture of luck, Starscream’s anal stupidity and Q’s funky gadgets. It’s stupid, it’s silly, and as a Transformers fan, as a Starscream fan I know I’m supposed to hate it but I laughed my ass off during his death scene.

Carly... meh, I'm pretty neutral about her. Some viewers may prefer Mikaela due to her quirkiness, and some may prefer Carly due to her larger role and more realistic 'I don't want to get caught up in this war shit' personality. Me? I like both Mikaela and Carly. Carly definitely benefits from better scripting, although there are places where Carly's role is blatantly meant for Mikaela (like working in a car dealership or talking to Megatron). The chemistry between Sam and Carly isn’t as good as Sam and Mikaela, but it’s not a pretty big deal.

Dylan Gould, though, now that's a character! I've always said that it's difficult to create human villains. We get with idiotic silly shite like Circuit Breaker and the Neo Knights and Angry Archer and stuff, or banal shifty organizations like Skywatch... now Dylan, initially he seems just like a relatively big-name actor thrown in to add to Sam’s already dismal, insecure life. A bit of a smarmy jerk, as well as a romance competitor, heck, maybe even someone that helps move the plot along. However, I never expected him to be a real villain in league with the Decepticons. It’s really scary to see Patrick ‘McDreamy’ Dempsey as an evil evil man like that. He threads the line between reluctant minion and evil smug snake, being Sam’s nemesis of sorts. That scene where he slaps Sam around while Soundwave has Carly at his mercy just makes me want to bop Dylan in the face. If a movie makes you feel like that, well then they are doing their villains right. I’m also very impressed that they didn’t make a ‘you have outlived your usefulness, now die’ scene with him.

The other human characters are just to spice things up, but arguably their roles are expanded from the second movie. Simmons is still great fun, and it's nice to see the batshit crazy feller come full circle and become Sam's steadfast ally. Simmons' mad antics are played excellently, but he is removed from active play mid-movie by an injury — realistic, really, as a human casualty — but continues to support Sam from the base. I really like Simmons this time around. Along with his newly-introduced sidekick Dutch (Alan Tudyk), an insecure German butler-manservant... Dutch and Simmons play off each other very well, and bleeds out awesomeness. How awesome is Dutch? After having all the gay hints dropped, and being Simmons’ bitch… and he goes and beats up the Russian bargirl? Great duo, those two. I’d take them over Leo or the hacker kids any day.

Epps likewise gets a much larger role. Compared to ROTF especially, Epps has grown from ‘that other military guy’ into a fully-fledged secondary character. He acts as a great mentor-type character to Sam, and that scene where he realises that going into Chicago is going to be suicide is a great spotlight for him. I like Epps. Among the returning humans that have improved are Ron and Judy who are thankfully reduced to their first movie baseline as embarrassing enthusiastic parents and no more than that. Which is good, because the refeer scene from ROTF is just silly business.

Poor Lennox gets the short stick, though. He still leads NEST and stuff, and the wingsuit scene is probably supposed to be his spotlight, but Lennox is nowhere as prominent as his first movie role. He basically just shouts generic military orders and after his short scenes in the beginning really he basically just becomes ‘that soldier’ again. Oh, and Glenn Morshower reprises his role as Admiral Morshower, but with the base commander role largely commandeered by Simmons, Mearing and Lennox, poor Morshower was relegated into speaking a bunch of lines a generic general could've delivered, and seemed to be in the thing just for the actor’s sake.

Charlotte Mearing (Frances McDormand) is a new character that basically replaces Galloway from last movie. Mearing is a tamer version of Galloway, but she's got a quirky personality and the fact that she learns from her mistakes with not trusting Sam makes her a whole lot likable than Galloway. I find her quite irritating because she can’t decide whether to be a total jerk or a relatively likeable authority figure. In retrospect she’s kind of like what Simmons was as a S7 agent in the first movie, but without Simmons’ charm. I don't get her not-romance with Simmons. Mearing didn't make as much impression as Dylan did, she is still a decent character… now if only she isn’t quite in the movie for so much…

The rest of the humans are basically one-scene wonders. John Malkovich plays Bruce Brazos, Sam's crazy-ass boss, which is a whole load of fun. Though that scene where he basically purrs like a little kid when he sees Bumblebee is a wee bit random. Epps' team is a bunch of non-memorable redshirts. Really, aside from Hardcore Eddie (Lester Speight) and that one bald guy who helps Carly jump to a fire escape I don’t think any of them got named. I disliked Eddie initially, but grew attached to him upon subsequent rewatchings. Poor guy looks like he’s going to piss himself when the Driller came at them! Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong), the crazy Chinese guy killed by Laserbeak... meh, he is rather irritating with the gay jokes, and is pretty redundant. Don’t like him. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin appears as himself, which is a nice touch when you consider it. Glory hounding or no, it's always a rather novel experience to see the real person performing. And he's got a nice set of lines with Optimus Prime.

And now, what we’re really here for. The Transformers. Again, other than the main cast (Optimus, Bumblebee, Sentinel and Megatron) the rest of the Transformers don't get to do much. Unlike ROTF, however, the Transformers are more in the forefront of things. The Autobots are in the whole movie instead of popping up in the introduction, and reappearing in the climax. Most of the returning Transformers have got their character models touched up, which is a nice little thing.

Ironhide is the next major character in line, I suppose. He’s this cool gun-wielding character the general moviegoer would recognize from past movies. I mean, who doesn’t love Ironhide? In the short series of screen time he has in three movies, he’s gotten himself quite a bit of a following. He’s got an awesome battle against the Dreads, and very likable. Thus it’s a rather sudden and brutal death when Sentinel suddenly just shoots him in the back. I was shocked when Ironhide simply just melts away into rust… it’s really a heartbreaking moment! And a very effective one too. Now I feel for those 1980’s fans when their Ironhide died. When Ironhide dies, suddenly the movie becomes much more tense, because hey, if Ironhide can die then so can Sideswipe or Soundwave or Dino or whomever is unlucky enough. And true, Bay did kill a lot of people didn’t he? Shame that there isn’t a ‘this is for Ironhide’-style line in the final battle.

Poor, poor Ratchet again did not do much. While he's got a spiffy new paintjob, he did not do anything bar fill up crowd scenes, shoot at generics and shout not-lines. The closest thing to a standalone scene is when Ratchet goes to the moon with Optimus, which, even then, he didn't do much. I do quite like little things like how Ratchet's siren lights go wee-woo-wee-woo when Sam passes him in the NEST base. Frankly I'm surprised Ratchet made it through the entire film without being killed. Sideswipe, on the other hand, becomes the next action guy after Optimus and Bumblebee, a great improvement compared to his one-scene-wonder in ROTF. Basically whatever action scene which involves more than one Autobot, Sideswipe is always there. He says quite a bit of lines too, on repeated viewings. Sideswipe is full of win.

The last of the returning Autobots is Wheelie. With Skids and Mudflap gone, Wheelie and his new sidekick Brains take over as the joke-hoisters of the bunch. What isn't immediately obvious, however, is that the duo's voice actors are the same with the Twins' — Tom Kenny and Reno Wilson. So basically Wheelie and Brains are sort of spiritual successors to the Twins, a subtle up-yours to the critics. But hey, you have to admit that both Wheelie and Brains are pretty charming and fun, in the plucky sidekick kind of way. Without these two, the final hour would be just dour action scenes. Wheelie and Brains break up the flow with their antics, and unlike ROTF where Wheelie seems to hide in that Egyptian shack during the finale, here both of them actually participate in the final battle. Shame that we didn’t get to see if they survived the crash or not.

As usual, a bunch of new Autobots arrive off-screen between the second and the third movies. First up is Dino. No, not Mirage. And really it just pisses me off that those GEEWUN fans want Dino to be referred as Mirage. I mean, it’s not like Dino is anything like G1 Mirage, right? At first watching, I was pretty indifferent with Dino. He’s got an Italian accent, he has whips and goes rodeo on Decepticons… but I grew to love him! He’s always there in the background, hacking up Decepticons or just looking sexy like Ferraris are meant to do. A bit of a niggle that he never takes damage on-screen, but whatever.

Q (Que, actually, but Q is easier to write) is a mixed bag for me. The little ‘charming old nutter inventor’ thing is pretty cute, but his design is pretty ugly and his death scene, being a wuss and everything, is pretty stupid. He never even transforms on-screen! I initially disliked Q, but after repeated viewing he’s became quite charming indeed.

The Wreckers are introduced in the second half of the film. Frankly I was impressed by the fact that they actually used previous Wrecker names (Roadbuster and Topspin). The Wreckers may not be the Marvel Wreckers, but they are still a crack Autobot team, albeit here they double as a repair crew. They are a hilarious bunch, being unnecessarily violent, having fun Scottish accents and being assholes in general. The Wreckers are a good load of fun to watch, even if Leadfoot has a weird-looking beer gut. They’re awesome, and bulk up the Autobot forces nicely. Plus, they’ve got Scottish accents, ey? Fun fun fun.

The Decepticons now. Rounding up the Decepticon ruling triad is Soundwave, who is now hiding as Carly's Mercedes... didn't see that coming either, but all of you who hounded for leaked design pictures no doubt have been spoiled by the Mercedes plot point. I myself was surprised when the Mercedes transformed. It’s heavily implied that Soundwave was the instigator of everything that Dylan Gould and the others did, which makes him all the more badass. It's a shame that in the Chicago scene Soundwave is just basically treated as an additional trooper whose role could’ve been given to, oh, I dunno, Barricade or something. Still, awesome scenes.

Likewise, Shockwave is a wee bit of disappointment to G1 fans who wanted to see the comic G1 Shockwave. Shockwave had been publicized as the main villain all along, and really we fans are dupes for falling for the red herring. Shockers is reduced to just another elite goon like Starscream and Soundwave, but I liked it nevertheless. Damn is he scary! Shockwave is a scary thing, and when you consider that he takes massed fire from all the Wreckers and the humans for a good part of the movie, and he has this massive deathworm thing at his beck and call… well, not what G1 fans were expecting, and honestly I’m a little disappointed that he doesn’t even speak but I like how he was executed. It’s a good thing that Optimus Prime killed him, though… I was a mite worried that we’ll lose Starscream and Shockwave to the humans.

Laserbeak, on the other hand, is a whole different bag. Full of win, and made a smashing impression! He's very sinister, with his sadistic voice and manipulative tendencies. Evidently Laserbeak (and Soundwave) have been pulling human strings for a long time, and the execution scene establishes how cruel the Decepticons can be. His 'is your daddy home?' is very creepy; that poor little girl certainly didn't survive the assault, and even if she did she'll have to live seeing Laserbeak murder her mother. It’s a less-is-more thing. We never see Laserbeak kill the humans, but we do know that he breaks into families and murders them. And at least stupid Jerry Wang manages to give Laserbeak an awesome killing scene. Laserbeak clearly enjoys suicide-ing his clients, and damn is his design kickass! Movie Laserbeak clearly is one of the more sinister and effective Decepticons, making this Laserbeak fan happy.

The new Decepticons include a trio of Dreads — Crankcase, Crowbar and Hatchet, a bunch of Decepticons based on the Predator. They are growling beasts that look kickass, all sharp edges and whip hair, which prove for amazing action sequences. Definitely the fast-paced street battle is one of the best scenes in the movie! And then it hits you that Sentinel Prime and Megatron allowed the Dreads to be killed so as to weaken the Autobots and disorient them...

The other new Decepticon that gets a lot of screentime is this impressive, massive sandworm monster thing. Driller is basically equivalent in size to Devastator, and simply just wrecks his way through everything. That scene where he brings the building down is simply just scary-shit impressive. Of course, I was not spoilered by watching a dozen TV spots spoiling the scene, so I received the full impact of the scene's awesomeness. But damn, that Driller is one hell of an impressive Decepticon. Oh, and Barricade and the Doctor returns as well, the former only to die as a generic and the latter as a swarm of drones that repair Megatron. Shuts up the fans, right?

The most impressive thing has to be the invasion montage of Chicago. The absence of Protoform meteors aside, the Decepticon army is one hell of a scary thing. Bland Decepticon protoforms from the second movie are mixed with new generic designs. Some are basically the Dreads without kibble, some are pretty basic-looking Decepticons with car kibble (one with car kibble is very evident at the beginning of the Pillar releasing scene), some Bayformerish crazy-looking generics like that giant Cloverfield Decepticon… and we see Constructicon clones, Brawl clones, Sideways clones as generics that get bomblasted by Optimus Prime, and then generic Decepticons transform into garbage trucks, Superfund trucks, random cars… heck, a random Decepticon trooper just transforms from a pickup in the middle of Chicago and starts vaporizing humans with his gun. It’s pretty graphic, pretty scary… a very dark mood. Not to mention the ships. From the massive, impressive Nemesis-esque carriers to those lithe piloted ships which make this eerie funeral church bell sound every time they adjust their engine things… well, the Decepticon army is really scary. Especially with things like Shockwave and Driller thrown in.

Let’s talk about the scenes. Most of the scenes are excellent. While none can top the Forest Battle in ROTF, Dark of the Moon is filled with impressive scenes as well. The Dread battle is full of win, as are the Optimus vs Sentinel beat downs. The Chernobyl fight scene is a very effective opening scene as well. The Driller scene with the building, the moody, dark Chicago invasion… this movie is full of these tense moments, and the great stuff definitely outweigh the weaker parts of the movie. What I like most is that, while most of the time human deaths are carefully ignored (how many people died when Optimus and Megatron had that battle royale in the first movie? Or in Shanghai? Or even here, during the Dread roadfight?) that moment where we are shown human corpses and generic Decepticons just vaporizing humans… with kids running, crying, screaming… heck, even our hero Ironhide dies! The mood whiplash from the more campy feel of the first half until the darker second half where basically it’s a big murderfest is nicely done.

While many people may complain about the relatively lengthy space project and Ark flashback sequence at the beginning, I thought it was appropriate so we don't get another flashback in the middle of the movie. As ROTF has proven, to the uninitiated general moviegoer, such flashbacks would only prove more confusing. And besides it sets up the tone so we won’t have too many introdumps. Granted it’s a wee bit too long, and undermines the whole mystery of just what conspiracy Sam is trying to uncover.

There are some weak scenes. The prisoner scene, in particular, is baffling. Surely Bumblebee, Sideswipe and Dino aren’t the type to surrender? Battles so far has always been brutal to-the-death conflicts, and unless Sentinel or Megatron had ordered the troops to capture them alive for gloating purposes, there is no way that the Decepticons would capture the Autobots… and Dylan has to remind Soundwave to execute them? Executions are one thing, but being reminded by Dylan seems to be just another way to make Dylan look like a dick, something that’s unnecessary at this point. The whole point of the execution scene seems to be just another way of having Bumblebee be put at mercy before killing Soundwave, which really could’ve been done in a much smoother way. Still, minor niggle.

Another niggle is Optimus Prime being tangled up in wires. Granted it’s a believable situation, being incapacitated like that, but it’s pretty silly. Still, it leads to the most kickass scene in the movie, so I can’t blame him. Also, another forgivable niggle is that it’s a bit of a weird thing that Megatron takes his decision to man up and reclaim his rightful place via a speech from Carly, though I suspect this might be a remnant from where Carly’s role was supposed to be Mikaela’s. And while the final battle is one heck of an epic send-off, the ending is a bit of a rushed scene. The Optimus Prime monologue feels short and stunted, there’s no resolution to what happens to Cybertron or the Autobots or NEST… it doesn’t bug me a lot, but I’d hoped for more resolution.

Let's wrap this up before I start repeating myself again, eh? Are there faults? Of course. Are there places where the plot or story could use a touch up? Certainly. But is it a good movie? Definitely. Really, this is me criticizing the so-called 'professional' critics. I won't say this about ROTF (though I love it) but DOTM is an excellent movie. Not just an excellent Transformers movie, but a great movie full stop. It's an excellent summer blockbuster, with a great plot (relative to the other two), and most of all it's impressive visually and audially. To wrap it short, this is a great movie. It doesn't reach to the magical feel of the first movie, but it is better in most of everything else, surpassing the faults of the second movie. It basically takes things to eleven, which is the score I'll be giving it. It's a decent conclusion to the trilogy, yet Decepticons being dead aside it leaves the franchise open for a director that wants to take over for a fourth movie.

Haters gonna hate, critics gonna hate, GEEWUN fanatics gonna hate… but the rest of the world love it. As proof, Dark of the Moon, at the moment of this review’s writing, proudly stands as the fourth worldwide grossing movie, next only to Avatar, Titanic and Harry Potter 8. This is what people love, this is what people want. Giant robots beating the hell out of each other with explosions all around. The critics are old fossils out of touch with most of the moviegoers anyway, while the fans that hate this expect a reenaction of the G1 cartoon or the G1 comics with Prowl and the Aerialbots and stuff and no humans… well, that’s the exact formula for a cartoon twenty five years ago, isn’t it? Good thing Bay has an action movie in mind, and clearly Bay knows how to do explosions and action movies. Big badda boom.

Yep, this movie is a smashing success whichever way you slice it. And a hell of an impressive movie too. Certainly the movieverse is much more iconic, and reached out to a wider age range than even G1 ever did. Love him or hate him, Michael Bay and his team are the ones to thank for making Transformers a bigger success than it has ever been before. You can’t deny it, without the movies the fandom would probably be looking at another retread of Robots in Disguise or Cybertron or something.

So I say it again:

I love this movie. Deal with it.

(Ten out of Ten)

Last edited by Blackjack; 2011-10-16 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 2011-08-29, 11:49 PM   #2
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A wee bit on the long side, this is subject to trimming over the next few days. Critics welcome!
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Old 2011-10-16, 03:02 PM   #3
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After rewatching the movie quite a few more times, re-reading the reaction thread and stuff, I've rewritten the review. Rearranged the parts, changed my opinion about Q and Megatron, and added a line thanking Bay for making Transformers the household name it is today.

Next up, the Notes and Goofs and Not-Goofs section... then the transcript and character bios.

Then hopefully screenshots.

I am a happy bunny when I work on the movieverse.
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