Michael Bay delivers an explosive punch with his third instalment in the Transformers franchise. Dark of the Moon opens with the revelation that intentions behind the international space race were based on much more than just human scientific advancement – instead it appears it was actually to investigate an Autobot ship that crash-landed on the Moon. Spliced with actual footage from the Apollo 11 moon landings, the opening scenes are loaded with a plethora of special effects and visual delights from which Bay builds upon throughout the rest of the film.
As the focus switches to present day, we are introduced to Megan Fox’s successor, English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who takes over as the leading lady – Carly Spencer – and love interest of Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky. Sam is struggling to find a job despite ‘saving the world twice’ and is now living in Chicago with Carly, originally a member of the British Embassy and chief breadwinner of the relationship.
Even the Autobots have left Sam behind, now operating as a covert division under the control of Josh Duhamel’s Lieutenant Colonel Lennox from the prequels. The Autobots are continuing their mission to protect the Earth from the Decepticons and the evil Megatron when they discover part of the Cybertronian spacecraft on Earth.
This revelation angers Optimus Prime, enraged by the fact that the CIA has been keeping secrets about Cybertron. The Autobots journey to the moon to investigate the crash site and retrieve an ancient Cybertronian technology as well as recovering their former leader, Sentinel Prime.
As the Decepticons fight to obtain the technology hidden with Sentinel Prime, the Autobots find that no-one can be trusted and that, in order to defeat the Decepticons, they must take the fight to them alone.
Michael Bay may have originally scoffed and branded the idea of making Dark of The Moon with 3D technology as ‘a gimmick’ but, after pressure from Paramount / Dreamworks Studios, Bay was convinced to record Transformers: Dark of the Moon using the same 3D cameras and technology developed for Avatar. For this reason, the audience cannot thank Paramount / Dreamworks enough.
The use and quality of 3D technology has grown exponentially in Tinsel Town, but, with it being employed for a multitude of films including Kung Fu Panda 2, Bay could be forgiven for seeing it as a gimmick. Dark of the Moon, however, is perfectly suited for the technology, thanks especially to Bay’s eye for spectacular battle scenes.
Shia LaBeouf proves once again why he is considered one of Hollywood’s hottest upcoming talents. His line delivery and comic timing is perfectly weighted against the raw energy with which he fills his more emotional scenes. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley steps into the sizeable shoes vacated by Megan Fox and makes them her own, oozing a classy brand of sexiness whilst demonstrating that she is more than just eye candy, holding her own in the acting arena. Carly’s boss, Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey) also shines as an obscenely rich charming employer who makes Sam nervous. Dempsey exudes charisma and perfectly balances the two sides of his pivotal character.
In terms of comedic value, Kevin Dunn and Julie White again excel themselves as Sam’s parents, having the tendency to put him in the middle of uncomfortable situations. This double act worked wonders in the first two instalments and their partnership again reaps rewards in here.
In Transformers and Revenge of the Fallen, the Witwickys’ fellow comic came in the form of Agent Simmons but in Dark of the Moon his role is more silly caricature than suitable character. John Turturro has undoubted ability and thoroughly commits himself to his role, but, surrounded by John Malkovich’s cameo as zany Bruce Brazos and Alan Tudyk’s appearance as the seemingly pointless Dutch, it all leads to the conclusion that too many comics spoil the comedic broth.
The flaws, however, do not take away from a film which delivers both sumptuous action scenes and an engaging plot, carried through by a talented cast. If you see one film in 3D, make it Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Best action scene: Optimus Prime swoops in to fight the tentacled Shockwave.
Coolest Cybertronian: Shockwave – A fearful cross between Megatron and a Sentinel from the Matrix saga.
Best performance: Shia LaBeouf – Again proving why he is so sought after. He has really made the character of Sam Witwicky his own with a likeable vulnerability.
Watch this if you liked: Transformers, Avatar, Tron Legacy.