Thursday Night Movie Club
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
star rating graphic½
Release Date: 29 June 2011

Director: Michael Bay
Shia LaBeouf
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Josh Duhamel
John Turturro
Tyrese Gibson
Patrick Dempsey
Frances McDormand
John Malkovich
Kevin Dunn
Julie White
Alan Tudyk
Ken Jeong
Glenn Morshower
Lester Speight
Buzz Aldrin
Sam Witwicky
Bruce Brazos
Ron Witwicky
Judy Witwicky
Jerry Wang
General Morshower
Buzz Aldrin
Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie poster #1 Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie poster #2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon movie poster #3
About the only reason to see Transformers: Dark of the Moon is if you live in Chicago and want to see the special effects as the Windy City is ripped apart by the Transformer robots. This film is just plain bad. The script is difficult to follow as are the battle sequences. You can't tell the Autobots from the Decepticons without a scorecard. Even that won't help.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon scene with Shia LeBeouf and Rosie Huntington-WhiteleyThe battle between the Autobots (good robots) and Decepticons (evil robots) continues in the third installment in the series. Back in 1961, NASA detects an impact on our moon. The space race is on in earnest to become the first nation to put men on the moon. During one of the black-out periods, when the astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin are out of radio contact with Mission Control, the true purpose of the Apollo missions is revealed. The astronauts are looking over the wreckage and salvaging anything they can bring back.

In present day Earth, something strange is happening at the Russian nuclear disaster site Chernobyl. Optimus Prime (leader of the Autobots) and a human military band investigate the reactor site. Once there, Optimus Prime discovers a fuel cell from The Ark, a space craft launched from Cybertron (home planet of the robots). The Ark is rumored to contain information that will end the war between the robots and rebuild there now dead plantet.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon scene with Josh DuhamelNeedless to say, Optimus Prime is pissed that the humans have kept the existence of Autobot information and technology from them. He is told about the purpose of the Apollo moon missions. Using a special space craft, Optimus heads to the moon to investigate the wreckage himself. Buried in the wreckage is the weakened body of Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) and five power cylinders. Sentinel Prime is mentor to Optimus Prime.

Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) is having his own troubles. He has just graduated with an engineering degree. Witwicky has been instrumental in the robot battle helping the Autobots. Unfortunately, he is sworn to secrecy and he cannot place his knowledge of the robots on his resume. He can't find a job.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon scene with Rosie Huntington-WhiteleyWitwicky's current girlfriend Carly (Huntington-Whiteley) pulls some strings and gets Witwicky a position in a prestigeous firm. He works in the mail room. People just seem to under estimate him. While the rest of humanity sees nothing, Witwicky begins to suspect his new employer Dylan (Dempsey) has more on his plate than he is letting on about. Power corrupts absolutely and Dylan is no exception. He is in cahoots with the Decepticons helping them with their recent plot.

Everything begins to go wrong for the Autobots and Witwicky. Sentinel Prime is a traitor to the Autobots. He steals the five cylinders and heads to Chicago. The Michigan Avenue bride over the Chicago River seems to be the perfect location so set up the mysterious cylinders. Once activated, the cylinders awaken Decepticons on the moon's surface and on Earth. The Autobots are quickly outnumbered. Worse yet, if the power cylinders remain operational for a long enough time, the dead planet Cybertron begins to materialize in the skies above Chicago. Humans and Autobots must unite once more to save the planet.

In between the opening sequence and the final frame is a series of confusing sequences topped off with battle scenes between Decepticons, Autobots and humans. Explosions, carnage, more explosions, wreckage and havoc unsue. The editing is so quick that these scenes are impossible to follow. Robots fight and wrestle each other and rack up one ginormous insurance claim destroying everything in the vicinity.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon scene with Shia LeBeouf and Tyrese GibsonSimilar to the X-Men series, each robot has his own name, personality and disguise as a recognizable human machine of some sort. When required, the robots transform into their real robotic selves. The main problem is that the robots don't wear uniforms. There is no way to tell them apart. Autobots look like Decepticons. Robots destroy the near North side of Chicago without any regard for civilian safety, not to mention landmarks. When a robot is destroyed, the audience doesn't know whether to cheer or boo. After two hours of nonstop mayhem, no one really cares anyway.

Director Michael Bey knows a thing or two about fiming the background plates that the special effects teams will then populate with robots and destruction. His camera never sits still. Tracking shots point down Michigan Avenue then point up and then back down as the robots fly over head. That said, the action shots are all very shot. The editing is choppy. Missle fire, explosion, robots transforming, fighting, cars crash, guns fire, people run and scream, more explosions, more robots, more havoc... repeat step one! Rule 2: no shot can last more than 2 seconds.

Transformers: Dark of the MoonSteven Spielberg would be a great choice to direct these movies although it is very unlikely he would be interested. Spielberg would be able to craft the action scenes in one long continuous take. The result would be quite spectacular and the action would be much easier to follow as his camera moves up, down, in and out of the action. For an example, see War Horse where the horse runs through the German trenches.

Shia LaBeouf is rumored to want out of the series. With any luck, everyone else involved in these films feels the same way.