Sunday, July 3, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Film)

Two years ago in 2009, the second live-action Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen, was released to understandably negative reception. With a third movie, Dark of the Moon, announced for 2011, also directed by Michael Bay, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. As the release date got closer and I learned more about it, I began thinking more and more that it would at least be better than Revenge of the Fallen. Having actually seen the movie, I found it vastly exceeded my expectations.

The movie begins with an altered history of the historic 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing, being that America launched the shuttle there in order to investigate the landing of an alien spacecraft, known as the Ark. In the present, the Autobots have begun working independently with the military in order to protect humans. In Chernobyl, a Cybertronian fuel cell is discovered that brings forth the Decepticon Shockwave (Frank Welker), the discovery itself greatly upsetting Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). Optimus later makes a mission to the Ark, discovering and retrieving the body of his mentor, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), along with five pillars needed to create a Spacebridge. At the same time, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is searching for a job three months after graduating from college while living with his new girlfriend, Carly Spencer (Rosie-Huntington Whiteley). Soon after he lands a job, he once again becomes a part of an oncoming Autobot/Decepticon war when the Decepticon Laserbeak (Keith Szarabajka) attempts to murder him. With the Decepticons planning a grand-scale takeover of Earth and the Autobots outnumbered, they are the only ones who can stop Megatron's scheme and save mankind.

Compared to the last movie, the plot of Dark of the Moon was much easier to follow. It was amazingly straight-forward and the actors helped to carry it fantastically. There are some references to the over-arching continuity, so it's advised to see the other two films first to help the story (that includes sitting through the last one). However, I did notice a small error: In the Revenge of the Fallen film, Jetfire (Mark Ryan) briefly refers to his teleportation ability as a sort of Spacebridge, but here it's said that it requires pillars to create it and Sentinel Prime to activate it. How big an error this is depends on your perspective, but I find it best to just think of Jetfire as merely having teleportation and not using a Spacebridge, since this wasn't brought up in either the book or comic adaptations of the second movie.

To call the effects of this movie "stunning" is an understatement. Because of the sheer number of mechanical beings on-screen at once and the amount of detail put into each and every one of them, it's a wonder that Industrial Light and Magic was able to do that much work before the movie's intended release. It's still amazing to see tiny parts of some of the robots move around while in robot mode and how spot-on the coordination is between them and the human characters. The action is further aided by the use of more dynamic shots, which really give the feeling of just how massive the Transformers can get.
Dark of the Moon is also available in 3D, which actually works as opposed to other movies such as Thor. The way the 3D is handled really gives you a sense of depth and it brings you a little closer to the intense action taking place. The action is still amazing no matter how you see it, but you will not be disappointed if you choose to see it this way.

The final battle in the third act takes up a good chunk of the movie, but it somehow didn't feel like it was taking forever like with the second installment. There were plenty of breaks in the action to focus on the human characters and their involvement, and some genuinely funny moments help to prevent it from becoming too serious. All this makes for a very energetic and sometimes emotional climax that will not soon be forgotten.

Even with what this movie brings to the table, there are a few things that stand out a little. For starters, while the altered historical footage at the beginning is done rather cleverly, it can get a little uncanny at times with how they use President John F. Kennedy. There also isn't a real explanation as to how a fuel cell from the Ark ended up in Chernobyl, since Russia hasn't actually ever set foot on the moon, let alone retrieved anything. Lastly, there's the switch from Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) to Carly Spencer for Sam's love interest. It isn't exactly explained very well, rather mentioned off-hand as Mikaela dumping Sam and him meeting Carly at the White House. This could've been explained a little better, as what's given barely works.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon brings back everything that made the first movie awesome, in fact delivering more action than either of the previous two. I would definitely recommend this movie to Transformers fans who enjoy the live-action series, especially those looking for something to wash down Revenge of the Fallen. But again, I would advise non-Transformers fans to watch the first two movies beforehand due to references in continuity.

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