TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (2011) / Action-Adventure

Running Time: 154 minutes
MPAA Classification: PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Jon Turturro, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Frances McDormand, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Kevin Dunn, Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, Julie White
Director: Michael Bay
Producers: Don Murphy, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce
Screenplay: Ehren Krugher, based on the Hasbro toy line

It is often said the sequels are never quite as good as the original. They just can’t ever compare. Studio executives see their chance to cash in on a film’s success, so they decide to make another one. This involves adding onto the end of the film’s title a big number ‘2’ or a colon followed by a dumb phrase. Understand that I’m not trying to explain to you how a sequel is made. I don’t take you people for a bunch of idiots. I’m only trying to make a point.

Well, considering the fact that the first Transformers movie was a monumental piece of crap and the sequel that followed it was even worse, your expectations for Transformers: Dark of the Moon should be relatively low. This is one of the biggest, dumbest movie franchises in the history of cinema and why it continues to make money is a testament to the mental state of our generation. Its name upon the movie theater marquee attracts children, frat boys, video game nerds, and people who are looking for a good laugh. Of course, I fit in with the latter crowd.

What I didn’t realize was the trouble I had gotten myself into. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is class A cheese, loaded with a plethora of bad one-liners, bad performances, and all sorts of technical mishaps, but its unintentional humor began to wear off within the first hour, and with a dreadful ninety-something minutes to go, I started to feel very, very scared for myself. Trouble was indeed on the horizon.

Here is a film that is not only an assault on the human mind, but on the ears and eyes as well. It is a non-stop barrage of deafening roars and steel-on-steel screeching, with plenty of yelling to boot. I would classify it as a form of psychological torture, but I doubt that the film’s director, Michael Bay, even has a clue what that is.

This time, the plot is a tad more coherent, but it doesn’t remain that way. There are the Decepticons and there are the Autobots and they engage in a multitude of battles on planet Earth, as they are ones to do. There’s Shia LaBeouf, whose depravity as an actor knows no bounds. His performance consists of a lot of yelling, running, and the occasional crude remark towards his inept parents and/or hot girlfriend. Then there are the likes of John Malkovich and Frances McDormand and John Turturro, who are some of the most talented performers out there, but here, they just embarrass themselves.

I won’t go into detail about the robots themselves, except for the fact that they’re just as illogical as they were in the first two films. Structure remains the same, but now there are some that have beards made out of steel, there are some that wear clothes, and if I’m not mistaken, I swear I saw one smoking cigarettes.

As for the film itself, I got exactly what I was expecting and nothing less — large robot battle sequences with a lot of slicing and scratching and continuous gunfire, not to mention very loud explosions and some slowed-down scenes of very large objects toppling to the ground. Close your eyes, start humming a drum beat, and basically what you have is a bad dubstep mix. Plus, the film as a whole is visually unappealing. It relies on special effects to attract an audience, but these are no better than anything else. The cinematography is shockingly bland and boring, and everything is over-edited to the point where you honestly have no idea what is going on anymore. Images smash against each other so often and so recklessly that at one point during the film I just wanted to press my hands against my face and yell at the top of my lungs, “Stop!” My brain was being beaten to a pulp.

There is only so much mayhem that one person can take, and Bay stretches those limits to the extreme. At an astonishing 154 minutes long, Transformers: Dark of the Moon could be labeled as an “epic.” Was the extra hour of gunplay necessary? Was it? Really? Is there anyone out there that found themselves completely involved in the film for its entire length, despite all of the repetitive action going on in front of them? My head was numb. I was unable to blink. As the final credits began to roll, I felt as though I had lost a rather large and important part of my mind.

But there is a happy ending. This does end on a more positive note. We shall see no more installments to the Transformers trilogy. It is over and done with, unless of course Michael Bay finds a way to squeeze a fourth one in, and that is very well within the realm of possibility. But for now, I cherish the idea of a Transformers-free world, where hearing aid costs are down and money is being put to better use. Hell, I can see it already…

Final rating: ★ (out of ★★★★)

© 2012 Stephen Earnest

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