Written by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Michael Bay
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Amir Mokri
WRITER: Ehren Kruger
MUSIC: Steve Jablonsky
Car chases, explosions and random slow-motion helicopter shots. It looks like director Michael Bay is at it again with the third and purportedly final chapter in his “Transformers” trilogy. Almost anyone will agree that “Revenge of the Fallen” was lackluster at best. Does “Dark of the Moon” do any better?
The short answer is no. The film still suffers from the same script problems that held the previous two films back. There are unnecessary plot points and useless characters all over the place, especially in the first act.
The story begins with a Cybertronian ship known as the Ark crashing into the moon in 1961. This event is what leads President John F. Kennedy to announce the United States’ intentions to land a man on the moon. The entire Apollo project was a massive government operation to explore the crashed vessel.
Fast forward to the present and the Autobots are pissed when they discover that they have been kept in the dark about the Ark. Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) then travels to the moon in order to retrieve Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) before the Decepticons discover the ship for themselves.
So, what about Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), the human hero from the first two films? In the beginning, Sam is trying to find a job in vain. By his side is the lovely Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whitley) who knows that Sam is trying. She is also way more devoted than Mikaela (Megan Fox from the previous movies) ever was and there is no question of love this time around.
Sam poses a very logical question when he asks why he must search for a job instead of working with the Autobots against the Decepticons. This is the first useless plot point in the film. Instead of just having Sam work with the Transformers, a move that would have saved precious screen time for the titular robots and actually would have made sense at this point, the audience must endure a mundane job search that ends with Sam getting a job with Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich).
This is a completely useless character that is not worth either the audience’s or Malkovich’s time. Admittedly, there is a lot of genuine humor found in the first half of the film. The problem arises when one realizes that the humor only hides the fact that the first half of the movie is a weak mess.
I must admit, though, that almost none of the other actors really deliver a bad job here. LaBeouf is actually quite good as Sam this time around and is almost a voice of reason throughout the entire flick. John Turturro also returns as former Agent Simmons and like the second film, it was actually good to see him again. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson also return as the soldiers from the previous film but they are once again cut short on screen time.
Huntington-Whitley is a much needed improvement over Fox. She is still not much of an actress and it is painfully clear that Bay wanted her in the movie strictly for her looks. However, Fox was not much of an actress either. The flaw here is less with the actress chosen than with the fact that Carly was obviously a quick replacement character and not much else.
Not all things are bad, though. The one thing these films are universally praised for are the absolutely superb special-effects. Beyond some real bad CGI work on a fake JFK at the beginning of the film, this entry is no different. In every shot, it looks and feels like the Transformers are physically there.
The action sequences are also insanely well done. The only thing that is out of place is the fact that the only memorable fights come from Optimus Prime and Sam’s faithful car, Bumblebee. Like the second film, the rest of the Transformers are featured but rarely focused upon. Bay has never really believed in these robotic characters, but he always chooses to focus on incredibly two-dimensional characters instead.
“Moon” is another film that proves while a movie may have some of the best visuals in the world, they mean nothing without a good story at the center. Hopefully, Bay will stay true to his word and this will be his last “Transformers” movie for a really long time.