Sunday, July 17, 2011

Let's Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The problem with reviewing sequels is that I probably haven’t reviewed the previous films, so you don’t know what my opinions are on the previous films. That being said, this film was better than the 2nd film. At the same time, that’s like saying ‘Look everyone! We’re above ground!’ (Seriously, did anyone like the 2nd film?) Without getting too far into my immense displeasure at the 2nd film, let’s review Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
The Negative
This film is 2 hours and 35 minutes long, while only having an hour long plot. That isn’t to say that the movie was slow, just that its plot could have been accomplished much faster if it had decided not to spend an hour and 35 minutes on fight scenes and Sam Witwicky complaining about life. With the new favored film formula of trilogies make the big bucks, I kind of expected this film to be bigger in scale. What I was expecting to see was Vector Sigma, Dinobots, Unicron, or even Primus (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s because I know more Transformer mythology than you). What I got instead was an evil Sentinel Prime, a rehashed telling of the Ark, and space bridges. You could say that I expected too much from this film, but then we have grown to expect films to resolve their story lines within 3 films time, with the third film always upping the ante to the extreme, and this plot just didn’t accomplish that task.
The scale of the battle felt surprisingly low for the Decepticons taking over the planet. Humans and transformers were slaughtered by the dozens without so much as batting an eye. There wasn’t any gravity attached to the hundreds of deaths because they were all nameless background characters who died in seconds. If you want to pull off death on a high scale onscreen then you need to attach some emotion to it, instead of just showing these people dying and then continuing the film.
A major problem in the film is the random racism. Notably, nothing in the film hits the bad racist stereotypes that Skids and Mudflap presented in the 2nd film, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still there. Many of the newly introduced Autobots are simply defined but what accent they happen to have, the character Dutch (while being a very interesting new addition to the cast) is at times presented as being a psychotic Dutchman, and we have an Asian character refer to himself as Deep Wang. Deep Wang is by far the most glaring racism in the film. He comes right the f**k out of nowhere, corners Sam in the bathroom, takes his pants off, and shoves a great big piece of paper the was residing in his underwear into Sam’s face. What was the point of Deep Wang at all? Sam could have easily gotten the information elsewhere, there was no need to have a character called Deep Wang appear in the film.
Speaking of Sam, why was he in this film? I feel like his character was really forced into this story. All he does for the first hour is complain about how much his life sucks after saving the world twice with giant robots and getting a medal from the President. I can promise you that if I even do that once in my life time, I will die happy. The true purpose that Sam features in this film is to explain the plot of what’s going on from a human perspective. I actually feel like we’re missing out on the awesome transformers movie because we keep focusing on him and not the killer robots behind him. We could have gotten a film that actually told the story from the Autobot’s perspective, instead we are once again told about the Autobots from a whiny human perspective.
The Positive
This film was a tribute to Transformers fans. Little things throughout the entire film were references to the classic Transformers. It was awesome to see Optimus Prime finally have his trailer attachment, and then to find out that it contained his armory and jets (instead of just magically disappearing whenever he transformed like in the original TV series) was just the coolest moment. Other moments like having the Ark, or Optimus willing to return leadership to Sentinel, or having Laserbeak be a major character was what really made the film for me.
The first scene with the Decepticons really sold this plot for me. Megatron was wounded, but not beaten. There was still an ace up his sleeve and he was about to reveal it. I feel like it’s a shame that they didn’t have Megatron really appear in the film at all. This was the plan that he was executing and he was just sitting it out and letting Sentinel take over.
Of all the Decepticons, Laserbeak was randomly the most effective. He got the job done through deceit, manipulation, cunning, and murder, exactly how a Decepticon should accomplish his goals. The darkest scene in the movie comes out of nowhere, when Laserbeak slaughters an entire family on Megatron’s whim. Laserbeak was how the Decepticons should have been acting from film one.
In Conclusion
I have very mixed feelings about this film. I feel like it should have been more, but I’m not entirely angry with what I got. If they should decide to continue the series, I can only hope that they figure out a way to have a bigger plot in a shorter amount of time. Less time spent with the humans and more time spent developing the Transformers, the better the next film will be. 3.3 out of 5