After Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was such an unmitigated disaster, how could people want a third one? How could they want another Michael Bay Transformers movie so badly that they turned Dark of the Moon into one of the highest grossing films of all time? Who are these people? To answer that question, I sat down with my brother and dad last night and watched this self-inflicted wound all the way through.
Dark of the Moon opens with a big spaceship crashing on the moon. When CG John F Kennedy hears about this, he orchestrates the space race with the secret intention of beating the Russians to this alien technology. They get up there and Neil Armstrong looks around the ship and then they come back and the space race ends. Immediately the film shifts to present day, where we stare at the butt of this film’s supermodel girlfriend for Shia LaBeouf. After Michael Bay has his lust temporarily sedated, we catch up with Shia. Since the last movie, he’s graduated from college and is looking for work. He wants to be someone important, but being a recent college grad, he doesn’t have that many opportunities available to him. We learn that he met his girlfriend after getting a medal from CG Barack Obama at the White House, even though it’s established she works at a car showroom. What’s worse, Shia’s parents show up in a Sarah Palin-style tour bus. God, I hate these people.
So Shia goes on to act like a whiny bitch with his beautiful girlfriend and rich parents for a while. Meanwhile, that Tad Hamilton guy is in Chernobyl with the Autobots for some reason. They find some thing and then get attacked by Soundwave, who, if you remember, was a fucking boombox in the show. Now he’s a fancy car surrounded by gigantic metal tentacles, you probably remember those from the trailer. Optimus is pissed about something and so he goes to the moon and brings back Sentinel Prime, who was hidden on that spaceship up there the whole time. Sentinel Prime has some of the key components of the Space Bridge, the teleporting technology to go instantly between Cybertron and Earth. Also, Sentinel Prime is played by Leonard Nimoy, who played Galvatron in the real Transformers movie. I don’t think Michael Bay knows this, however, since he instead just makes every Spock reference possible. Sentinel Prime actually says “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” at one part. The gall of this man.
I guess Michael Bay liked Burn After Reading, because we learn that Frances McDormand is now in charge of the Autobots side of the U.S. government and John Malkovich is the weirdo who hires Shia. Malkovich acts like a hardass boss during the interview, but then quickly becomes a joke before disappearing entirely. He doesn’t really even matter, because Shia’s time at his new job is spent getting into homoerotic situations with Ken Jeong, who as it turns out worked for NASA during Apollo 11. Laserbeak, Soundwave’s cassette tape who is now simply a bird robot, kills Ken Jeong, so now Shia’s on the case. But he’s too late: Sentinel Prime betrays Optimus and joins with Megatron to summon the limitless army of Decepticons on Cybertron to Earth. Shia learns that his supermodel girlfriend’s boss secretly has been helping the Decepticons the whole time and she gets kidnapped. The Decepticons take over Chicago for some reason, and the U.S. government gives into their demand to exile the Autobots. They all get on another spaceship and then that ship gets blown up by Starscream (I think, it’s hard to tell).
With all the Autobots seemingly dead, Shia joins up with Tyrese Gibson and his old military buddies to head to Chicago. But when they get there, they give up because they didn’t think this through. Then, out of nowhere, the Autobots show up. They weren’t on the spaceship at all! Shia asks why and Optimus basically says no reason. Then there’s an action sequence for at least an hour. They spend forever trying to get to a certain building, even though they actually make it there to save the supermodel within minutes. They save her and leave and then realize they need to go there again. And it takes forever. Optimus flies around and gets stuck in hanging wires like an idiot. Some Autobot who’s like an old British scientist, complete with weird robot Einstein hair, gets killed and we’re supposed to be sad. Megatron basically sits there helplessly for the whole movie. Dudes parachute in and kill random, unnamed Decepticons. Sentinel Prime just stands on a building monologuing like an evil Spock. Eventually he fights Optimus. He’s about to win, but the supermodel manipulates Megatron into actually doing something, so he backstabs Sentinel. Then Optimus kills Megatron like a bitch. He does a brief monologue and boom, movie over.
It probably shouldn’t, but it still bothers me how far from the source material we’ve come. All the Autobots are douchebags, especially Optimus Prime. They’re just jerks to everybody. And you can’t even tell who the Decepticons are, I thought Soundwave died three times because I couldn’t tell him from the others. The humans are all horrible people, especially Shia LaBeouf, who spends the whole fucking movie whining and screaming. I hate him so much. The supermodel is worse than Megan Fox, she’s just meat put on display for us, often standing in sexy poses during the most dangerous situations. At least John Tuturro and Alan Tudyk (as his European manservent) seem like they’re having fun with their parts. But most everything that was wrong with the last movie is wrong with this one: the story is hard to follow and stupid, the characters are terrible and it’s way too damn long – longer than Revenger of the Fallen. The CG generally looks nice and it’s easier to follow now, especially because so much is in slow motion, but I still don’t really care.
But what about my brother and dad? They liked X-men Origins: Wolverine after all. They wanted to see this movie. I had to wait for them to start it. About halfway through the experience, my dad turned to me and asked why I wanted to see it. I told him it was to write about how bad it is. He accepted that answer. As soon as the credits started, they were up and out of there. My brother seemed excited about some parts of it, but when it was over he was quick to call it a bad movie. He just liked seeing fancy cars, I reckon. Later, my dad took me aside to talk about how bad the movie was. He even mentioned it to my other brother on the phone.
It’s just a shame, Michael Bay could have made a much more action-packed, bizarre movie if he stuck to the source material. He could have set it during the 1980s and the ridiculousness of it, things like the main villain turning into a gun that someone else had to fire, would be greater than anything in his film series. Instead, he created a successful franchise without a soul. A terrible machine that transforms hope and love into sorrow and loathing. And I hear we’re in for like two more of them.