Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third film in the Transformers franchise, has to pull off one major feat to please its fans: make up for the huge disappointment that was Revenge of the Fallen. Not only does director Michael Bay rise to the challenge, but he exceeds expectations with the big-budget blockbuster of your Hasbro-toy-loving dreams. The story is better, the jokes are funnier, the action sequences are epic. In a word, it delivers.
Sam Witwicky, the once geeky teenager played by Shia LaBeouf, is all grown up now and seeking his first postcollege job. Unfortunately, saving the world (twice!) and being BFF with the Autobots (aka the good transformers) aren't viable additions to his résumé, and he's plagued with the feeling of helplessness. Even his smokin'-hot girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who never once makes you miss Megan Fox), can't lift his spirits, and he ends up taking a job in a mail room. There, a seemingly cuckoo co-worker passes on some intel — the Decepticons (aka the evil transformers) are back — and thus begins Sam's fight to save the Autobots once again and prove that he's more than just a messenger.
To find out why Dark of the Moon is worth watching, just
The film doesn't take itself too seriously, and you shouldn't either. The premise is hinged largely on the idea that Neil Armstrong's trip to the moon was actually part of an investigation into a foreign object that had crashed on the moon. When it was discovered that the object was actually the Autobots' spaceship, a government cover-up set in for decades. It's unrealistic to say the least, but so is a movie about alien robots disguised as cars.
Since we're not in the theater for a believable story line, comedy becomes all the more important, and the laughs are injected at every turn. Sam's feelings about adulthood become comedic thanks to LaBeouf's exaggerated frustrations, and his unsung hero status becomes a joke that never gets old (thanks in part to his medal of honor that impresses nobody). The film also cashes in on its supporting players: John Malkovich and Ken Jeong steal scenes as Sam's bizarre new co-workers, while Patrick Dempsey is a perfect foil to LaBeouf as Carly's debonair boss.
With a solid cast under his belt (which also includes Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, and Frances McDormand), perhaps the biggest lesson Bay learns is that audiences are looking for a human heartbeat underneath all of those scenes between the robots. Don't get me wrong: there's still plenty of bot-on-bot action here, but we're not subjected to dull, overlong scenes. Instead, Bay plays up the relationships between the earthlings, focusing more attention on the story arc than simply bombarding the audience with special effects.
Aside from the final showdown that could have been 20 minutes shorter, the action sequences in Dark of the Moon are exhilarating. Bay's dominance couldn't be more evident, from the super slow-mo shots of Sam flying through the air to the operatic background music, but the scenes are heart-pounding and well-executed. This means we're also subjected to Bay's typical eye-rolling objectification of women (he did cast a Victoria's Secret model, after all), but the fun is well worth the gratuitous shots of Huntington-Whiteley's butt.
Photos courtesy of Paramount