Josh Wilding Reviews: Transformers: Dark Of The Moon 3D

Josh Wilding Reviews: Transformers: Dark Of The Moon 3D

Josh Wilding Reviews: <I>Transformers: Dark Of The Moon 3D</I>

A franchise which people seem to either love or hate, how did the final movie from Michael Bay stack up against both the past two and the rest of 2011's epic blockbusters? Hit the jump for my in-depth, spoiler free review...

The interstellar war between the Autobots and Decepticons shifts onto overdrive following the discovery of Sentinel Prime in this sequel from director Michael Bay. Only a precious handful of officials in the government and military realize that the 1969 moon mission was the result of an event that threatened profound repercussions for the entire human race. When the Apollo 11 astronauts discover the wrecked remains of Sentinel Prime on the surface of our natural satellite, they bring him back to planet Earth. But Sentinel Prime wasn't the only alien object on the moon, and when a malevolent new enemy makes its presence known, only the Autobots can save mankind from certain destruction.

While I’ve made the upmost effort to ensure there is nothing in this review which qualifies as a spoiler, if you want to know nothing about the movie before it’s released across the world over the next few days, you may want to turn away now!

If you've seen the other two Transformers movies, you should know by now not to go in expecting an Oscar worthy masterpiece. If you're looking for another Black Swan or True Grit, then why the hell are you even reading this?! No, you go in knowing you're going to get a couple of hours of action packed, explosive fun, and that is exactly what director Michael Bay delivers in what is surely the best movie of the franchise. That's right, the trilogy curse is avoided here (see Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand if you don't know what I'm talking about) and we instead get a movie which is equally as good, if not better, than the first, and miles ahead of the sequel.

As you can probably tell from the above synopsis and the numerous trailers and TV spots we’ve seen over the past six months, the story is fairly straightforward. There are however plenty of surprises, and while I wouldn’t necessarily praise the script for being overly clever or ground-breaking, it is definitely far more cohesive and enjoyable than the past two movies. That’s not taking anything away from either Transformers or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (I personally enjoyed both for the most part) but this time the stakes feel higher, the mission is clearer and the tension continues to build throughout to a satisfying and amazing finale. The movie is perhaps a little too long, and this can be blamed on…well…John Turturro. He and every other actor brought in for comic relief in fact. If this franchise has always fallen flat in one area, it’s comedy, and the same happens again here. Dark of the Moon would have been much better off had they cut out the over the top and unnecessary return of Turturro’s Simmons, not to mention the numerous other cameos from the likes of Alan Tudyk and Ken Jeong. Tudyk is downright silly, and left me cringing in my seat praying that he would hurry the hell up and get off the screen, while the latter was ok for the most part, but I surely can’t be the only one getting bored of seeing the same thing again and again from him? It’s like he plays the same damn character in every movie, and it just does not fit in here, especially considering the fact he’s supposed to be playing a guy involved with NASA. Oh, and then we have John Malkovich. Again, he’s just about tolerable, but the fact that he and the actors I’ve mentioned above are so blatantly thrown in your face and meant to be funny just ends up falling flat. And do I even need to mention Sam’s parents? Yes, they’re back again, but this time they’re not quite in it as much as before. They make up for that by being twice as annoying. Highlighting certain actors as comic relief and shoving them down your throat is just not effective, and the moments which were clearly meant to gain laughs drew only a few quiet chuckles in the packed cinema I was in. The pacing was a little off in places, with the second act in particular getting a little slow, but there’s luckily plenty of action to keep things going.

It’s hard to complain about what Michael Bay did with this movie in terms of direction. I’m no Transformers expert, and could probably name only a handful of the Autobots and Decepticons even now after only having seen the movie a few hours ago, but was pleased to find it much easier to keep up with the action and various altercations between the two this time. The action sequences feel a lot less cluttered and frantic, and Bay once again does an outstanding job of delivering some truly breath-taking and awe-inspiring moments. Perhaps his biggest asset is the addition of 3D. There are a couple of set pieces in particular that benefit a great deal from the format, and it’s clear that the director used these specifically to show off what he could do by using it, with these scenes literally leaving me sat back in my seat with bated breath. That’s right, it really does live up to the hype and looks as good as Avatar on many occasions. There are some scenes which lack as much depth (I’m guessing those are the ones converted to 3D rather than actually shot in it) but this was a very rare occurrence. For the most part, it work beautifully, and blows both Thor and Green Lantern right out of the water. While I’m sure Dark of the Moon would be just as good in 2D, I strongly recommend seeing it in 3D, as it actually made the movie BETTER. A seemingly rare occurrence in this world of conversions we currently live in. When it comes to everything else, Bay does a perfectly adequate job with the quitter moments as well as blending practical and CGI effects seamlessly. I find it very hard to complain about anything he did this time out, and would go so far as to say it’s his best movie yet. Oh, and any of you hoping for plenty of lingering shots of the lovely Rosie Huntington-Whitely will be very happy indeed.

By this point, I hardly think it comes as a shock to say that ILM nail the special effects. Whether it’s the opening few minutes set on the moon, the title sequence, or the many magnificent and downright stunning action sequences, there’s literally not a single weak moment. The final battle in Chicago in particular contains thrill after thrill, and the arrival of the Decepticons over the city easily outdoes any of the other recent alien invasions seen in movies like Battle: Los Angeles or Skyline. In fact, they should also surely be commended for making the whole thing look so damned good in 3D. The score is suitably impressive, and fits well alongside the epic action. While it all goes a little Inception in the final battle (you’ll see what I mean when you actually watch the movie) this actually works really well and in a movie full of so many HUGE moments, it’s always good to have music which backs this up and ends up enhancing and improving the overall experience.

In terms of acting, it's Shia LeBeouf who once again sets the standard for everyone else. I'm sure some of you might think I'm being sarcastic, but I happen to actually quite like the guy, and he helps to keep things grounded as the likeable and easy to relate to Sam Witwicky. He only has a handful of scenes which require a great deal of emotion, but he does a fine job and his witty sense of humour is a blessing when compared to the other "comedic" actors I've mentioned above. Of course, one of the most noteworthy additions to the cast is Rosie Huntington-Whitely as Carly, otherwise known as Megan Fox's replacement. She's not really given a lot of material to work with, but does a surprisingly decent job, and I'm tempted to say that she ultimately does better than Fox in some respects. However, that could simply be down to the fact her character is far less unpleasant and bitchy! Overall, she might have a future in acting, and while her performance is ultimately a little forgettable, her looks most certainly are not! Don't be too surprised if you find yourself somewhat unimpressed when Patrick Dempsey first shows up as Dylan, but stick with him as things get a lot better, and he ends up delivering something of a show stealing performance. His character also happens to be the most interesting, but rather than break my no spoilers rule, I'll let you discover why that is for yourselves! Needless to say, I'm now convinced he could pull off Doctor Strange, a role he's recently been campaigning for. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson are back as Lennox and Epps respectively and each do a decent enough job, as does new cast member Frances McDormand. Overall, it’s a pretty decent cast. Of course, Transformers: Dark of the Moon also has a reasonably impressive voice cast for the various Autobots and Decepticons. The supporting robots don’t really stand out, but there’s once again no faulting Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime or Hugo Weaving as Megatron. The biggest addition of course is Leonard Nemoy as Sentinel Prime. He was very, very good as the voice of this particular character and he lends some real power and authority to Optimus’ mentor. When I first heard that he’d been asked to join the voice cast of this movie, I couldn’t quite imagine him being a good fit, but am happy to have been proved wrong.

If you didn't like the first two movies in the franchise, don't bother going to see this one, as I doubt even the impressive 3D effects will change your mind. If this truly is Michael Bay's last Transformers movie, it's a fantastic send off. While it’s not perfect, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is easily the best movie in the franchise, and while it will struggle to change the mind of those who have already decided they won’t enjoy it, the rest of you will surely have one hell of a good time!

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