Dark of the Moon begins were ROTF left off: on the brink of death.
Director: Michael "Bing, Bang" Bay
Main: Shia LeBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey
Still worked in: John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson
Odd inclusions: John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk
Unnecessary inclusion: Ken Jeong
Incredibly annoying to the point of hatred: Francis McDormand
Less parents, more cartoon characters: Kevin Dunn, Julie White
Michael Jackson burst onto the scene with flashy dance moves and energized songs. Then he became white, removed half of his nose, held his child off a balcony, started hosting slumber, wine, cheese, and inappropriate touching parties with children, became a joke, and was heavily criticized. Years went by, and the fact remained Michael was still an international music icon, so planned and started a reunion tour, but OD'd and passed away.
Let's look at the life and time's of Michael Bay's Transformers trilogy.
Transformers (2007): The film was unlike anything before. The visuals were incredible, prolific even. The characters strange (they yelled a lot, all of them) but enjoyable, humorous. Megan Fox. Cool military scenes and lingo and behind-closed-doors government operations. References to the source material. There were scenes I thought went on way too long and were mistakes (like the Autobots hiding in Shia's yard), but these were made up for by all the robo-action (Optimus vs. Bonecrusher on the highway = sweet). The film was a success.
Revenge of the Fallen (2009): ROTF had all the same elements of its predecessor: great visuals, strange characters, Megan Fox, military scenes and lingo, government operations, scenes that went on way, way, wayyyyyyyy too long, and robo-action. However, Michael Bay cut off his nose in spite of his face, so to speak, trying to mock people who wanted to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq by making the film a giant euphemism for the War on Terror, while also trying to tell the story of Shia and Fox's love, and Shia going to college, and working in Transformers having had interactions with Earth for centuries, and including a world monument, and finding a way to bring back John Turturro.
Watching ROTF is a lot like going to the Neverland Ranch. You're lured in by the first movie and the promise of even cooler CGI. Once inside, you're taken on a peculiar tour involving questionable depictions of race, ethics, morality, sexuality, humor, dialogue, logic, and entertainment, among other things. At the time, it might seem "okay". But the more you think about it, the more you wonder if you should press charges.
By the time ROTF was released in 2009, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and Iron Man had maximized the trend, started by Spider-Man (2002), of grounding superhero/comic book movies in realism. ROTF takes the opposite approach and dangles realism four stories above the ground.
Critics laughed at ROTF. People scoff at it. It won the Raspberry's Worst Picture award.
The one thing ROTF added was increased mayhem. There were more Transformers, so the battles were larger. And the fatalities were intense: spine rippage, impalement followed by gun blast, face removal. Cool.
Dark of the Moon: Before DOTM went into production, rumors started circulating. Spielberg had let Bay off the chain for the second film, saw the result, and was back to guide the series. Could this mean DOTM would be good?
Then Bay himself came out and said the second movie sucked. He promised this one would be better (and not racist).
And what do we get? The same thing we always get. Insane CGI. STRANGE characters. Megan F--wait, no...Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Military stuff. A government person. Less long scenes, but more scenes (six to one, half a dozen to the other). And some (read: very little) robo-action.
To me, DOTM is a regression because it's merely an amalgamation of the first two films. Begin with action sequence involving a lot of destruction. Frenzy was replaced by Ravage who is replaced by Laserbeak. The hot girl that tried to seduce Shia at college (and ended up being a Decepticon fem-bot) is now Patrick Dempsey who is a real human seducing Shia's GF (Rosie) (and is a Decepticon spy). Bernie Mac became Rainn Wilson is now John Malkovich. The self-righteous government agent that hates the Autobots is no longer male but Francis McDormand. The racist bots are now Wheelie and Brains, and are less racist but still crude and disruptive. Megan Fox's dog, Bones, is back, but is Shia's dog, and Shia's dog, Mojo, is gone. When Shia can't figure things out, enter John Turturro. Bumblebee comes out of no where to save Shia. Highway chase. The first secret object was in the Hoover Dam, the second secret object was in Petra, the third is on the Moon. Megatron was frozen and thaws, The Fallen was terminal then is revived, Sentinel Prime is in coma but is awakened. In the first film, Blackout releases Scorponok, a scorpion-like Decepticon that burrows through the desert after Duhamel and Tyrese (and other soldiers). In the third film, Shockwave controls a Driller (which appears as an overblown mechanical version of a worm from Tremors) and sends it tearing through a skyscraper after our poor human heroes. The Fallen relegated Megatron to "bitch" status; this time Sentinel Prime does it. Jetfire went from a Decepticon to an Autobot, now Sentinel Prime goes from an A to a D. The world is threatened. In ROTF Optimus Prime died and was brought back; this go-around you think he dies, but he doesn't. Slow-mo and close-up when a robot fatalities another robot.
Esssentially: DOTM brings nothing to the table. It has the large scope of the second film, and the (kind of) tight narrative of the first, but provides nothing of its own. What was unique and enchanting in the first movie is, by this third installment, commonplace. Bay had said, about ROTF, in anticipation of DOTM: “It was kind of a mess, wasn’t it?… Look, the movie had some good things in it and it was entertaining and it did very well, but it also failed in some key ways. I learned from it. And now with this third movie we’re going back to basics and I absolutely believe this is going to be a much better film than the second one.” Unfortunately, Bay's Dark of the Moon ODs on the franchise's very own originality, and, somewhere around the 20 minute mark, begins a 2-hour death rattle.
What I think is beyond dumb:
The portrayal of Optimus Prime. Bay has Optimus groan and moan and whimper in awkward ways. He also has him get caught in building wire and hang there for 20 min. It's ridiculous. In one scene, Optimus talks down to a government official and you're like, yeah Optimus. In another, he FLIES and decapitates the enormous Driller, and you're like, yeah Optimus! Then he's stuck in wire and helplessly hanging there until other Autobots can cut him down? Call me crazy, but if I'm the writer, I avoid putting my coolest character in pathetic situations. There are other ways to solve the problem of "we need to keep Optimus busy until the final battle" where you don't make him hang around like a kite in a tree.
Also: Megatron disappears for a long time. In the big city-battle sequence (which underwhelmed me), Megatron isn't around. We're finally shown that he's just sitting somewhere. It's not like he's been strategically hiding. He's just sitting, with his silly little hood up, looking emo. Then Rosie somehow managers to walk by him and they chat, like a guidance counselor with an upset student. Rosie trash talks Megatron, whom she has never met, but only saw through a telescope (and somehow by watching Megatron and Sentinel through the telescope she was able to hear their conversation about Sentinel telling Megatron "you're my bitch"), and convinces him to go fight Sentinel. Dumb.
Ambiguous moral moment:
Megatron stops Sentinel from killing Optimus, by shooting Sentinel in the back. Tells Sentinel he, Megatron, is in charge. Then tries to broker a truce with Optimus. Optimus straight murders Megatron, then executes Sentinel. The concept is cool. But, when I watched it, I felt sort of...cold. It's not like Optimus was like, "You're the cause of all this evil, you can't be trusted," and killed Megatron...or "Remember when you killed me?"...or "If it wasn't for you, the Cybertronian war would never have happened." In other words, Optimus doesn't pass judgement or proclaim vengeance. Megatron offered the truce and said, "What would you do without me?" and Optimus says, "Let's find out." That's a cool line, but...damn, dude. I don't even think they were fighting.
To me, this is the only moment in the entire trilogy worth discussing, because it's the only important moment that relies on subtext. In order to understand the subtext of Optimus saying nothing to Megatron, one has to watch Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen, and Dark of the Moon. In this way, the moment almost salvages the trilogy. This is where Michael Jackson and the Transformer trilogy are opposites. The power of Jackson's music overshadows his odd personal legacy. Whereas Transformers regurgitated plots, insulting characters, and assaulting filmmaking will forever eclipse (pun) the trilogy's one literary moment.
Did I Like It:
No. If I ever watch it again, it's because some terrible thing has happened in my life.
Why the fuck did Ken Jeong have so much screen time? Why was he even involved? Why did the scene with him and Laser Beak arguing happen???
I liked The Island. Why can't Bay just do that?
I thought Rosie was fine. I don't see why people were so critical of her.
-watching something stupid and loud
-what not to do as a director
-what not to do as a screenplay writer
-ruining Patrick Dempsey
-watching it is your first mistake
-that if you watch this and like this and tell someone you think it's good that they will judge you
-questionable space shuttle explosion
make up whatever you want