Fight Film Friday: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Posted: July 1, 2011 in fight film friday
Tags: ,

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
USA, 2011
Genre: Action, Science Fiction
157 minutes

In a conspiracy hidden for decades, the Autobots find a long lost secret from Cybertron buried on the dark side of the Moon.

In what he’s calling his final installment of the franchise, director Michael Bay made sure to pull out all the stops for the latest Transformers adventure. It’s quite possibly the Michael Bay-iest of all the films he’s done, so know what you’re getting yourself into before you sit down. The classic Bay hallmarks are all there; the constant slow-motion and ramp up, the warm and vivid colors of sunset, the constant shaking camera of a man on too much caffeine, and all the usual suspects. He uses them because they give people what they’re looking for, and he’s become very adept and fitting them everywhere he possibly can. As far as authorial vision goes, this is likely the exact film that Bay wanted to make. It’s a complete sensory spectacle, between the stunning blend of CGI mechanical combat and practical effects, the thundering score of Steve Jablonsky, and the absolutely visceral sound design of every crack, snap, and crunch. There were a couple of questionable moments, notably an FPS camera that floated in out of nowhere, but otherwise this is Bay doing what Bay does best.

Of course, along with all the flash come the traditional failings of a Bay film as well. The plot is ridiculously convoluted, even for an action movie. It’s clunky and paced poorly, making the already overcomplicated story even harder to follow. The dialogue is unbelievably insipid, spouting clichés and tired jokes at every turn. The actors do what they can, and thankfully decide to ham it up for the camera as opposed to phoning in yet another monotone performance for the box office bucks. Shia LeBeouf and the rest of the regulars from the last two films return to their respective roles, with the exception of Megan Fox, who’s replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whitely as the lead love interest. There’s nothing new from anyone, and everyone seems content to fill the generic character roles they’ve always had. Leonard Nimoy lends his voice to the aged Sentinel Prime, a role that feel oddly out of place amidst all the other characters. In what seems like a retaliatory measure, the ethnic stereotype robots from the last film have surprisingly been replaced with even more stereotypes, but this time sampling from European caricatures. There’s more than a few eye-rolling moments as new characters are introduced, and at this point I suppose I should stop being amazed every time Michael Bay offends somebody.

Like I mentioned before, this is the Bay film to end all Bay films. All of the action is completely over the top, and I don’t think it should be any other way. Aside from the gorgeous visuals and fantastic sound design I talked about earlier, it’s clear that a great deal of thought went into the choreography of all the fight and chase scenes. Assuming you can get past the shaky camera and slow-motion abuse, the action looks good and complements the complexity of fighting/running/driving robot combat. Like most action directors, Michael Bay is exactly what he is, and has a polarizing effect on most movie goers. If you like the kind of ludicrous action set atop famous buildings and tourist attractions that Bay is known for, you won’t be disappointed by his latest project. Otherwise, it’s just another Bay film and you might as well go watch X-Men again.

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