Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon

Remember when Optimus Prime was a pacifist who was only fighting to defend the humans? No, you’re right. Optimus Prime is blood thirsty warrior.

Transformers 3: All Your Cash are Belong to Us has been hailed as the best of the Michael Bay Transformers series, and people have been offering that praise with their tongues in their cheeks. When the other entries have been so soundly dismissed, that statement is meaningless. What people don’t give the Bayformers credit for doing is making the Transformers franchise relevant again. There is a positive involved in all of this, and Michael Bay shouldn’t be held in contempt for reinvigorating the robots and driving toy sales for not just the movie figures but all sales lines.

I’m not telling you that any of the movies are worth seeing. I’m just saying that Bay did something good for Hasbro and the Transformers in general. In my mind, Dark of the Moon is the cherry on top of the trilogy because it means the series is over.

I honestly thought it would be difficult to top Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, the under appreciated first sequel. No one quite understands why I prefer that over the original, but I finally found myself able to articulate it: Revenge of the Fallen didn’t lie to me. The first film seemed insincere because it was a bad movie taking a bad approach toward adapting the robots in disguise while playing it up with a weight indicating, “This is actually a good film!” For whatever reasons, such as the writers strike and all that, the second film was rushed out and not as polished as the first. It was a bad movie taking a bad approach at adapting the robots but wore that truth on its sleeve. It seemed to tell me, “Hey, this is just an excuse to play up the audience’s attraction to our leads while giant robots beat the hell out of each other.” It’s not actually a better film than the original. I doubt it’s any worse. But the fact that it didn’t treat me like an idiot who can’t discern cinematographic excrement from the rest of the movie season’s offerings made me respect the film a whole hell of a lot more.

Transformers 3 unfortunately goes back to the first film’s level of insincerity, but at least it kept the second film’s brutality. To be honest, I simply loved the fact that they showed a snippet of the war on Cybertron. For the first time it felt like the Transformers were a race of beings with an actual backstory instead of simply elevated props. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as it goes. That snippet of war footage lasts all of a few minutes, and it’s ruined by unnecessary narration. Didn’t science fiction filmmakers learn from the theatrical cut of Blade Runner that narration is hard to pull off well and is almost not worth doing?

Following that, the movie is full of bad choices. Replacing Megan Fox with someone of equal looks and talent accomplished nothing. Attempting to make Shia TheBeef’s Sam Witwicky sympathetic because he can’t find a job is pointless because he is still with an incredibly hot girl and has college paid for him. This was a bad idea because I see it as some kid who has the world handed to him finally having to do something on his own, and his whining about it makes him a child rather than adult. The Transformers themselves were once again characters on the side of Sam’s personal struggles with being awkward. Never mind that they’ve been waging an interstellar war that now threatens Earth – Sam’s insecure because his hot girlfriend is working for some rich dude. The Transformers themselves are just sentient props, and certain Autobots are killed to add weight to the situation, despite the fact that not a single one of the robots is given enough time to develop any sort of character or reason to care about them. Watching Ironhide take out a couple of drones does not make me care when he dies. Nor does making gadgets make me care when the really ugly Autobot dies.

I’ll tip my hat to the filmmakers for bringing Leonard Nimoy back to Transformers. How often does Optimus Prime get to kill both Megatron and Galvatron in one fight?

Then there are the swerves by the various characters. Sentinel Prime is in league with Megatron and wants to bring Cybertron to Earth, with humans working as slave labor. Tell me how that makes sense. Bringing a planet like that to Earth would severely alter the orbits in our solar system and cause some majorly adverse working conditions for the humans. Not to mention the fact that squishy creatures that are rougly 1/30 the size of an average Transformer are expected to rebuild their planet? Stupid. I also didn’t like that as soon as Sentinel woke up he was able to explain that his space bridge was far more advanced than human physics could understand, because in the one minute he was awake he learned enough about our sciences to make such a statement… Then, if he was such a jerk, why didn’t he take the Matrix of Leadership from Optimus when offered? Additionally, when the Autobots tricked everyone into thinking they were dead, why did they wait so long to resurface? Because it wasn’t believable until they let the Decepticons kill thousands of people in Chicago? How am I supposed to cheer on these guys when they think allowing genocide is good strategy?

Like I said before, at least the movie moved forward with the second film’s brutality. There is something inherently wrong with Optimus Prime’s blood lust for Decpticons, but it makes for entertaining moments. Punching through the torso of a robot with the Cybertronian equivalent of brass knuckles was neat, as was the time when he smashed his axe into the skull of another robot and then removed the head with the spine attached. Does this make the movie worth seeing? Only if you’re into that sort of thing and willing to wait two hours before any of it happens.

I’m not going to tell you that Transformers 3 is one of the worst movies ever made. I’m not going to be like Doug Benson and tell you that you’re stupid if you spend money on the movie. What I’m going to tell you is that there is absolutely no value to be derived from the film save for pure brainless entertainment. If you pretend that the movie has a lesson in it, it’s that any complete loser can get the girl. If a complete loser believes himself important enough, whines enough, and pouts enough, he might be able to convince one person he’s worthwhile. This is the kind of audience Bay wants to recruit for the movie…and he may have just done that. Escapist fantasy always wins when it tells us no matter what we still have a chance to be somewhat important.

Now that the era of Bayformers is over, maybe the next person to pick up the franchise will be interested in adapting stories found in the comics. You know, stories about the Transformers and not about condescending to the audience.

About Gospel X

Media commentator who tries not to waste time - and often fails

Posted on July 13, 2011, in Bechdel failure, movies, review, science fiction, scifi and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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