Summer Officially Begins with Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Clear the theater, the heavyweight champ has arrived!  Transformers: Dark of the Moon returns just in time to remind us just what a Hollywood Blockbuster looks like after a summer of mediocrity.  Transformers: DOTM arrives in a tour de force, staying true to its cheesy comic relief, PG-13 language and sensuality, but delivering on action, action, action for those of us who can’t get enough of the hot cars and industrial vehicles morphing into warriors while driving 100mph.

Transformers: DOTM opens at full speed, taking us back to the war between the Autobots and the Decepicons on planet Cybertron.  We learn that in the waning moments of the war, an escape pod desperately tries to escape the fighting, carrying with it technology that could save Cybertron.  However, the Decepticons manage to damage the craft just as it leaves the planet.  Later, that same escape pod crash lands on the dark side of Earth’s moon.

Flash forward to the early 1960’s on earth, where U.S. and Russian military officials detect the crash of the alien craft on the moon, which touches off the race to the moon in the 1960’s.  Finally, the U.S. succeeds in landing on the moon, and after fulfilling their public relations obligations, the mission goes “dark” as the Astronauts execute their true classified mission of exploring the wreckage.

Catching up to real time, we learn the Autobots now work as a covert military tactical team for the United States under the coordination of Lennox (Josh Duhamel).  The action picks starts here and along with the bronze, panty-clad bottom of Carly (Rose Huntington-Whiteley), offers a tease of what the rest of the movie has in store.

Finally, we reunite with Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) who seemingly has everything, a super hot girl friend the Congressional Medal of Honor, but he struggles with being marginalized after he has saved the world, twice, and yet cannot seem to land a decent job in Washington D.C.  Sam struggles with how to move on now that the Autobots are assimilated into human culture and no longer need his assistance.  Frustrating his plight, Carly faces no such resistance in her career.  She’s moved on from the Embassy job where she met Sam, to a Curator for a museum owned by Dylan (Patrick Dempsey).

Dylan’s entrance sets off a satisfying round of high-powered cameo appearances that adds some fun throughout act two and makes Transformers look like the popular kid at school that everyone wants to know.  John Malkovich delivers a psycho boss you would want to work for as Bruce Brazos.  Ken Jeong steps right out of Hang Over 2 to invade your sense of all things decent as eccentric Jerry Wang.  Kevin Dunn and Julie White return as the embarrassing, annoying parents, but thankfully their role is limited this time around.

Frances McDormand joins the supporting cast as Mearning, the obligatory, by-the-book-to-our-own-demise National Security Advisor that each high-tech action movie requires.  McDormand adds the right mix to the cast to keep things interesting while working to marginalize the Atuobots and their assistance to the U.S. war machine.

After the hook is set with the crashed Autobot spacecraft on the moon, we’ve caught up on Sam and his new girl, the plot finally picks up the pace as the Decepticons manipulate the Autobots into reviving a dormant Sentinal Prime, expertly voiced by Leonard Nimoy.  Once Sentinel Prime regains his form, he turns on the Autobots, taking over as leader of the Decepticons and unleashing a war against humanity to conquer the planet.

U.S. officials exile the Autobots after Sentinel Prime’s aggression, believing that the Autobots no longer can protect the earth from the Decepticons.  As the Autobots launch their spaceship into space in search of another home, the Decepticons blow it out of the sky in an explosion sure to trigger thoughts of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

With the Autobots out of the way, Sentinel Prime, MegaTron, and the other Decepticons launch their battle against humanity, using Chicago as their “ground zero.”  At this point, the movie casts off all the funny business and gets down to a heart-pounding, roller coaster thrill ride through the battle for Chicago and humanity itself. Epps, Lennox, Sam, Simmons, and even Carly stand in the gap for man-kind in the absence of the Autobots.

Act three may be my favorite segment of the Transformers franchise: Crisp action, peril reversals, punches, counter-punches, and a resolution that avoids being rushed, leaving you with a no holds barred thrill ride of human sweat, blood, tears, mingled with shiny, rusty, and dented metal.

Themes range from the outcast hero looking for a place in the world, self-doubt and self-realization, beauty-and-the-beast, loyalty, friendship, and the bravery of the U.S. soldier.

Music and sound effects were plenty, but didn’t stick out and didn’t distract.  Even though we saw the movie in 3-D, not much really jumped out at you, but it didn’t take away from the movie either.  Of course, there are new, sleek cars aplenty roaring through chases transforming to and from their robot warriors of all makes and models.

Overall, Transformers: DOTM may be the best of the series and by far, the best action movie of the summer.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon—everything a summer blockbuster should be, and more!



13 Responses to “Summer Officially Begins with Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

  1. Brian White

      I loved all the human interaction.  Wish the parents were in there more.  Hated the Rob Zombie Halloween 2 version of Megatron, but it is what it is. The final fight between Optimus and Sentinel was just okay, but the action overall was mind blowing!!!

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I hear that Bay dropped the black stereotype robots and added a couple of Scottish robots.


  3. Ken Johnson

    Yes, the stereotypes are gone, there was one Scottish voiced robot, one Italian robot (Lambourigini), and a couple of sity-slicker robots, but nothing like Jar-Jar Binks!

  4. Aaron Neuwirth

    Of the problems that I have with this series, hearing robots talk with accents isn’t one of them. I’d rather have a different set of characters than one-note boring robot voices for everyone. That said, no more jive talking twins is a good thing.

    Still I plan to enjoy the crap out of this movie tonight, in giant IMAX screen 3D goodness. freaking squirrel suits zooming through Chicago with cameras on their helmets, count me in.

  5. Brian White

    @Aaron. What about robots with hair and beards? How does that happen? That’s one reason the first one will always be the best for me. No hairy robots!

  6. Ken Johnson

    I would say, the robots have features that are “hair-like”. Distracting at first, but not something that really impacts the movie. Also, there are machines, that have bristles that could resemble hair.

    Finally, if you are willing to accept the robots as real, but then the hair spoils it, well, I think the filmmakers did their job!

    I would prefer the robots without that crap myself, but minor in the universe of the movie and did little to detract from a fun story.

  7. Matt Goodman

    Not to be a bother, but out of five stars what would you rate Dark of the Moon?

  8. Aaron Neuwirth

    Would this stop you from seeing the movie?

  9. Gregg

    Great review, Ken! One side note though, that was a Ferrari, not a Lamborghini. I thought the first 40 minutes were a bit forced and disappointing. The rest of it is one big holy sh** ride though. WOW!

  10. Ken Johnson

    I would give it a solid 4.5 stars if that is not a copyrighted scale! 😉

    No aspect of this movie should stop you from seeing it. It is not perfect, but the best action movie of the summer by far and delivers in both action and emotion.

    Busted on the Ferarri! Somewhere Jay Leno has indigestion. I agree with your assessment on the timing of the movie. The first 10 minutes are good, then next hour goes back to Transformers 1, then the final act is what the movie should be all along. But, heck, I’ll take it as it is–the best of the series.

  11. Brian White

    Ouch! I have to boldly disagree with that. I don’t think you can beat the magic and the innocence of the first film. It was just that good and not too over the top or forced!

  12. Aaron Neuwirth

    Ken, I was addressing Matt.

    Brian, I’m with you and I have about 2,000 words to back that up (coming soon).

  13. Matt Goodman

    Yes, Aaron, I’m still seeing this (despite the fact that it is sold out everywhere) and I will probably love it. I’m one of those people who find it very difficult to dislike a film.