Rental Corner: “Transformers” rises…slightly
The Transformer movies have been somewhat hit and miss. The first one was decent entertainment, but the second one (“Revenge of the Fallen”) is best to be remembered less for its plot holes and questionable material. “Revenge of the Fallen” proved to be a knife in the franchise as it attempted to beef up the first film’s simplistic idea of alien robots that can form into vehicles, which in itself is based on a long running franchise of 1980s cartoons and Hasbro Toys from where the hype first began. Now, Micheal Bay takes another swing after a home run and strike with “Dark of the Moon.”
The main lead, Sam (Shila Beouf returning again) has dealt with the responsibility of harboring an alien and the horrors of college. This time, he is off to find a job in the office department and yet a boss with possible OCD (John Malkovich) is the only one to hire him. While that goes on, Sam misses out on the discovery of the lifetime as Optimus Prime, leader of the remaining Autobots, discover there is more of their kind on the moon. Yes, apparently this is not the only summer blockbuster to mess about with history. First “X-Men: First Class” has the nuclear arms race involved and now Micheal Bay is joining the bandwagon with the idea that Neil Armstrong was sent to the moon to find alien robots have crash landed there. Keep this up and Pluto won’t be a planet but a massive space station built to destroy the universe.
Either way, they discover a living Prime robot in the craft, which escaped during a big war on the Autobot’s planet, but however he is on the side of the Deceptacons, a group of evil robots led by Megatron, who plan to bring forth their dying planet with four pillars that will transport it to our world. For a plot this complex, you think it would be simple to follow. Well, not when there is focus on Sam in the world of office work, trying to make sure his new girlfriend is happy, watch after some small and wise cracking bots, as well as try to get involved in the next war between the Autobots and the Decptacons that is if the new secretary in control would let him.
The first half is so slow and boring, that you wish they would cut about 15 to 40 minutes from it. It’s just filler to a massive showdown in a rural Chicago city. There are some action scenes along the way, but they feel like meatier recaps of the original like a fight on the highway. But when we do get the final fight in the last act, we feel like it was either worth the wait or tiresome after all those mini-battles that occurred. Still, there are some notable moments like a massive worm-like Deceptacon that devours a crumbling building with our heroes in it.
But, even the violence is taken up a notch with robots decapitating others, heads of the evil robots getting torn off, Deceptacon being torn to pieces, and even some spurting up blood instead of oil. For a movie rated PG-13, its more violent than the last one. While “Revenge of the Fallen” got negative feedback for its “sexual content and forced comedy” (most notable is a massive Decpetacon with two brass balls are present in the lower region and two male dogs mate), this one is very gritty and doesn’t hold back on the gore. One can argue that they are robots and the “blood” is some sort of anti-freeze or oil, but blood is always colored red in any movie that exists and we see plenty of it.
Oddly enough, during the fights and certain scenes, there are moments where two seconds of black occur between a big fight scene or something of importance. Its distracting and looks like some footage was removed without fixing the odd transitions. In the end, you’ll get a shot of people running from the machines, cuts to black and then cuts to an evil robot talking about what is the happen, cuts to black and then finally and strangely transitions into the next scene.
I have a basic theory that maybe “Dark of the Moon” was longer and instead was cut down leaving gaps of information unresolved. This is not the way to resolve it. If the priority is to show, perhaps it would be wiser to have this entry in two films rather than cut it into a massive summer flick or at least keep the action and edit out the slow spots. And speaking of the title, we don’t spend much time on the moon so the title “Dark of the Moon” seems questionable as the aspect of surviving Autobots on the moon is looked into for the first half, but very little of it.
Even “Dark of the Moon” suffers the same problem that “Revenge of the Fallen” had where it ran at a 2 1/2 hour length and felt like too much was crammed in. As a sequel, it’s an improvement over the last, but as a film on its own, one must take caution when they have a pillow and blanket next to them. Fans may like it and forgive what harm was done or others will be bored and tired by the end wondering what else is there to offer aside from the robots taking sides against each other on our own planet concept. If a fourth film is be made, perhaps it would be more interesting to see the Autobot’s and Decptacon’s planet before the striffe and show what went on. Althought, to give some credit, at least it wasn’t as campy or annoying as the last.