First of all, I would like to say I’ve been looking forward to this film for a long time. Partially, its because the toys have been so good. For the newest Dark of the Moon line, I’ve picked up the deluxe Bumblebee, Roadbuster, Topspin and Starscream, and none have failed to impress me at this point, whether it be engineering, paint, or general quality.
Secondly, the second film just sucked so much! Bay took out everything meaningful and characterful out of Revenge of the Fallen and just replaced it with bigger explosions, more of his famous jump cuts, and increasingly inappropriate dialogue. This gave me hope for the third film because Bay himself admitted he had done a terrible job. I was all on board for a saving grace.
The recent Prime series on the Hub has been overflowing with smart, modern writing and elegantly planned plots, not to mention a certain deliciously evil spider-bot I can’t wait to get my hands on. How the hell do you get a decepticon into a bustle? But I digress.
Lastly, the girlfriend factor. My girlfriend DOES NOT ENJOY MY TRANSFORMERS. Though she insists on supporting my hobby by displaying them on our shelves, she detests their aesthetic completely. You will understand the level of pique she aroused in my interest when she turned to me after the DOTM trailer and said: “Huh. This looks like a real movie.”
And, suffice it to say, a real friggin movie it turned out to be. For fans and casual film-goers alike,Transformers: Dark of the Moon is transformers done right. Many fans have already mentioned that this was the sequel they were looking for or that this was the film Bay set out to make. I’m sure many have commenced to pretend the second movie never existed, though this is actually a mistake.
Dark of the Moon sets out to make Transformers gritty and real again, in much the same way the first movie did for the original franchise. To understand some of what’s happened, and in turn emphasize the drama of the third film, its important to have seen the buildup of serious adult themes in the previous two. Instead of animated children’s films, the trailer before DOTM is: Mission Impossible. Bay set the bar for giant robot action in the first film, and now he’s set a second bar for adult themes and relevant interests.
Government conspiracy, ancient powerful artifacts, all the film’s important plot points are set out elsewhere so I will save you the details. Suffice it to say the imagery is simple but effective, particularly the Megatron scene where he destroys the statue of Lincoln, pushing the continuing theme that the Decepticons are more than meets the eye; they are not just engines of destruction, but cunning, scheming masterminds so interred in human government, human affairs and human weapons they almost become human themselves. Megatron destroys Lincoln because he understands Honest Abe’s significance to humankind; in that respect he understands us better than even Optimus Prime, gallantly imploring the world’s leaders in the naive hope that they will listen. Important plot twists are genuinely surprising, and if you are a transformers fan they will accomplish the impressive feat of leading you to guess the next hair-raising turn, and the next, and the next. The excitement rolls one into the next, quickly enough for the simple plot to become extremely diverting. The breakneck clip allows the viewer to suspend character development if only to watch Prime knuckle-duster Shockwave into oblivion, or Sam Whitwicky scream in panic as Bumblebee transforms around him going ninety on a highway, bits of decepticon corpses exploding all around him. Foreshadowing is also accomplished with a little finesse in the form of Wheelie and Brains, but Bay was never known for such advanced film techniques. DOTM is still rife with Bay’s brain-jarring jump cuts, foulmouthed lines and confusing plot developments, but given what’s been accomplished, they aren’t really more than speed bumps on a beautifully rendered roller-coaster ride. The overpowered ending is really icing on the cake- its the payoff you’ve spent the whole movie building up to, and it delivers in spades.
Transformers history is beautifully represented here, and the Matrix does the job it was intended for, as a symbol of leadership. Soundwave, Shockwave and the Wreckers tickled my fancy plotwise, especially when Soundwave displayed frightening propensity for cruelty and Shockwave a cold, calculating, yet bestial commander. The Wreckers were a surprising delight to see on screen, simultaneously entertaining and capable, unlike the twins of ROTF. Design wise, I’m particularly looking forward to the deluxe figures of the Ferrari Dino and the AMG Soundwave, as well as the last wrecker Leadfoot to fill out the trio.
When the movie was over, I turned to my girlfriend and she was all a twitter in her seat, something she did at Suckerpunch, Scott Pilgrim and Inception. We spent the evening discussing the finer points of Bay’s style, the plot, and how if she could direct it it would be more to her taste. When she got home, she stopped being annoyed at my transformers and started to personify them with their own personalities. To summarize: This is a giant robot movie that can convert A GIRL. Go see it already!
Shockwave watches you every moment you’re not watching DOTM- with his mono-eye!