"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is another huge, cacophonous calamity in which the Autobots and Decepticons face off.
The storytelling is messy. The film is loud – really loud. And, there’s no sense wasting a lot of time describing it. Just accept “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” for what it is: a huge pyrotechnic porno.
Would you expect anything less from director Michael Bay, taking his third – and longest (clocks in at 154 minutes) – stab at his erector-set of a movie franchise based on a line of toys and cartoon series from the ‘80s?
From “Pearl Harbor” to “Armageddon,” Bay’s conceit has always been to go big or go home, and here he even one-ups himself. He goes gigantic. And so, four years after he rolled out the first flick, Bay, offers another huge, cacophonous calamity in which the Autobots and Decepticons face off. I’m going to say that “Dark of the Moon” is the best of the bunch, but that’s not really saying much.
Here’s what you need to know: It’s a spectacle, and it’s the sharpest-looking 3-D film since that juggernaut “Avatar.” And it deserves to be seen in 3-D. Bay has cleaned up the fight sequences so you can at least tell which robots are fighting whom and who wins. He also creates an immersive experience for the final 40-minute battle scene in which Chicago is turned into a burned-out wasteland. The visuals are pretty awesome, especially the glass skyscraper split in half. Plus, for the first time the Transformers move more fluidly than clunky.
However, a special pair of glasses can’t mask the movie’s many faults, namely sloppy storytelling at the hands of writer Ehren Kruger, who wrote “Revenge of the Fallen,” the second in the trilogy. Kruger has penned a tale that rewrites space history to include Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong discovering, on the dark side of the moon, a long-lost Autobot – Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy, aka Dr. Spock). Aldrin, now better known as a “Dancing With the Stars contestant, even shows up in a cameo. Once back on Earth, Sentinel goes rogue and yada, yada, yada ... chaos ensues.
Meanwhile, when we catch up with the bumbling Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, the franchise star), he’s just graduated Princeton and on the hunt for something more insurmountable than the Decepticons: a job. He might be battling self-worth issues, but Sam is fortunate to be living with the hottest girl on the planet in Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Carly. British supermodel Huntington-Whiteley replaces Megan Fox in the Hot Girl role, which requires an agile actress able to wear spiked heels while fleeing angry and armed robots without ever twisting an ankle. With no previous – and obvious – acting experience, Huntington-Whiteley is Bay’s gift to teen boys, and their dads. Just wait till you see how well Bay can frame a shot of her derriere. If only that much diligence was taken with the rest of the film.
A supporting cast including Oscar nominee John Malkovich, Oscar-winner Frances McDormand (“Fargo”), Ken Jeong (“The Hangover” movies) and Dr. McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey, as a not-believable villain, play one-dimensional characters, though Malkovich injects a dose of humor as Sam’s new boss. They are clearly there to collect a paycheck. Reprising his role as a CIA conspiracy theorist, John Turturro’s character remains the best in the movie. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson are back as assault-weapons-toting beefcake.
Fans of Optimus Prime and the gang will be more than satisfied with the spectacle, but with that bloated running time, the movie wears out its welcome, not to mention your brain.
Dana Barbuto is at email@example.com.