Sunday, July 3, 2011
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Reviewed
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is awesome.
I recoil when I read reviews that review other reviews, but allow me to say that if someone didn't like Dark of the Moon, consider them suspect. Not because they have bad taste — by any logical metric the film is not "good" — but because they obviously have an aversion to fun. True story: one review I read complained how the action in Dark of the Moon wasn't as good as Children of Men. Another true story: the only time Dark of the Moon and Children of Men should be referred to in the same sentence is when discussing movies that exist and were released the last ten years. Again, let me direct you to the central conceit: there are giant killer robots — robots that transform into cars for no good reason, P.S. — attacking the world.
Dark of the Moon works for all the reasons most of Michael Bay's films work as summer spectaculars: the action is massive, the scope is massiver, and the film doesn't take itself too seriously. (See the giant killer robots for "How could it?") About that last thing: with John Turturro, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich and Alan Tudyk chewing scenery like cattle, serious is not a term Dark of the Moon is really concerned with, despite scenes that recall with terrifying detail both the Challenger explosion and 9/11.
The plot is meaningless, so I won't bore you, but: robots attack, people die, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is at the center of it all. (As Turturro says to some effect toward the second hour of the nearly two-hour-forty-minute film, the kid is a robot magnet.) LaBeouf has taken a lot of heat this summer because of his honest interviews and outlandish quotes — he's become the male version of Megan Fox — but a funny thing about him: he's actually a great performer. He's not acting in Dark of the Moon — I don't actually know if he's ever acted — but he is reacting. He is entertaining. He is funny. In this movie, in this role, he just works. He's less believable as an action hero when things get to act three (as in: he would be killed ten times over with what happens during the Chicago battle sequences), but that doesn't matter much. After all, by the time the action starts in act three, you won't be concerned with whether LaBeouf is a good actor; you'll be wondering how Bay did all this.
And wonder you will. The effects work in Dark of the Moon is some of the best I've ever seen. The final battle looks real, a feat that is even more impressive when you consider that giant killer robots and spaceships are at the center of the action. This is one of those movies that's actually worth the 3-D surcharges. Correction: this the only movie I've ever seen, Avatar included, that is actually worth the 3-D surcharges. IMAX, too, come to think of it; with the exceptions of The Dark Knight and Inception, Dark of the Moon pushes the house-size screen format to new levels.
Is Dark of the Moon as good as Super 8, the cream of summer thus far? Not really. Is it a perfect summer movie? Almost. Is it better than those ridiculous comic book films? Hell yes. Stick with the killer robots. Stick with Michael Bay. See Dark of the Moon.