Fear not, Transformers fans! Those of you who were disappointed, or even put off, by the sequel to the first Transformers movie will be pleased with the “threequel” Transformers: Dark of the Moon
. Although it has its weaknesses, it’s generally a crowd-pleaser. After an excruciatingly, and unnecessarily, slow start, there’s plenty of a**kicking by your favorite Autobots, Decepticons, and humans. The film is long at 157 minutes, and could have easily lost about 30 minutes from the beginning. The incorporation of original news broadcasts and television coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing is very poorly done and left me wondering why since it’s been effectively used in earlier films. Think Forrest Gump
. Not only did this slow the pace, it was also kind of confusing, and I began thinking, “Come on! Let’s get on with some action!” The Transformers themselves are the real stars of the film, and the best parts of it occur when they are on screen. Whether they are in the form of the cool cars and trucks they “hide” in, or in Autobot/Decepticon form, they are amazing. For many 20/30 somethings, they will evoke that special toy They had when the cartoon series first launched in the ‘80s. For their parents, they will probably evoke that mad search at Christmas time for the one their kid asked for -- usually Optimus Prime.
The plot is predictable: the heroic Autobots battle the evil Decepticons to save the human race and the Earth. There are, of course, some betrayals and twists along the way, but you know it will come out as it should. Evil does not win in these kinds of films – nor should it. Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky, friend and confidant of the Autobots. This actor is really good at talking to imaginary beings! He’s also very good with the physicality of the role. What’s missing is the chemistry he had with Megan Fox, who was replaced by the stunning Victoria’s Secret model, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, as Carly. She has little to do other than to look gorgeous with her pouty lips, but she should be given credit for having to run (a lot) in 5-inch heels. No one in the film believes that she’s Sam’s girlfriend, and neither could I. There’s little heat between her and LaBeouf. And as for those 5-inch heels -- I have to wonder why she wore them as it made her taller than all of the actors.
Josh Duhamel is back as Lennox although he’s given little to do in this film except for a multitude of stunts. The same goes for Tyrese Gibson, as Epps. John Turturro, as Simmons, steals the film as the paranoid ex-agent who’s an expert on Autobots and Decepticons. His little flirtation with Frances McDormand’s character, National Security Director Mearing, is worth the price of your ticket. Kevin Dunn and Julie White return as Sam’s parents, Ron and Judy Witwicky, but they are over-used. After their first appearance in the beginning, we really didn’t need to see them again. John Malkovich is his usual quirky self in a puzzling role – Bruce Brazos, the CEO of the company that hires Sam. It seemed that he was being set up as a major character, and then that just didn’t happen. Instead, the human nemesis in league with the Decepticons, Dylan, was played by Patrick Dempsey. His character is Carly’s boss in the film. Ken Jeong makes an outrageous, as expected, appearance as Jerry Wang, who is briefly one of Sam’s co-workers. Let’s just say that a certain scene in a bathroom stall must have been a hassle to stage.
Added to Optimus Prime, voiced by Peter Cullen, and Megatron, voiced by Hugo Weaving, is Sentinel Prime, voiced by Leonard Nimoy. Sentinel Prime was the leader of the Autobots on Planet Cybertron before Optimus Prime. He was lost in the Autobot/Decepticon civil war that destroyed the planet, and is found and brought back from his crashed vehicle on the, you guessed it, dark side of the moon. His character adds another dimension to the story line, and speaking of dimensions, I saw the 3D version. It didn’t seem that necessary to me, and I would probably not fork over the extra money since those glasses always give me a headache.
Even though much is made of the dark side of the moon, the title is really the “Dark of the Moon,” meaning the time between the new moon and the first crescent moon in the lunar cycle. It’s supposed to symbolize beginnings and rebirth, which makes me wonder about a fourth film. Both Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf have said that this is their last Transformers film, but if it does well at the box office, the end of the movie definitely leaves the door open for another.