Saturday, July 2, 2011

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon - As Awesome as You Expect

So every now and then I'm sober enough late at night to see a movie. And since 2007, I've been first in line to see the Transformers movies. Now I haven't killed so many brain cells that I haven't noticed the kind of controversy and bitching that goes on from critics regarding this franchise. A solid majority agreed that the first one kicked ass and I agree with them. The first movie was pretty damn awesome. It had humanity, heart, Megan Fox's ass, and killer alien robots beating the shit out of each other. It's the second movie that got everyone's panties in several miles worth of knots.

Now I'll say outright that I enjoyed Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. I won't say it was better than the first, but I will say it wasn't worse in any respect. It's exactly what you want it to be. It had the same humanity, heart, Megan Fox's ass, and killer robots beating the shit out of each other. If you went into the movie expecting more than that, then you're expecting way too fucking much. Michael Bay does not shy away from what he does. He doesn't advertise something as as a bucket of piss and give people a pile of shit. He understands and is perfectly okay with making movies that are more style over substance. And why not? It's pure, sensory escapism. They make metric fuck-tons of money. People wouldn't go if they didn't enjoy that sort of thing and critics that try to judge it on a scale out of that context are just being dicks.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon got the same rap as Transformers 2. It's scored pretty low with the critics. It was only slightly higher than it's predecessor. The main excuse was that it was still just over-the-top explosions and effects. My response to that: "And the problem is?" This isn't a comic book event or a novel. It's a fucking movie with Michael fucking Bay and a massive budget. What the hell were you expecting? A social commentary on Indian help desk people? So here's my take. I'm not a movie critic. I read comics more than I read movies. But I've had a soft spot for Transformers since the 80s when hair metal bands weren't nearly as gay as they are now. I'm passionate about it and I'm passionate about the movies that Michael Bay makes of them.

Despite what the critics say, there was a story. Sam Witwicky has gotten a secret metal from President Obama for his exploits in Revenge of the Fallen. He's graduated college and unlike every other kid in his position, he's not shackled by sixty grand in debt because the government paid for the whole thing. The worst problem he has is that he can't find a job. Okay, so it's a pretty common problem that real people do have. He does come off as a bit of a douche-bag though because he's not content starting out at the bottom like most kids out of college. He feels that since he saved the world, he deserves more. He may be right, but when you see who he's humping most guys feel an uncontrollable inclination to punch him in the face.

Enter Rosie Huntington, the actress chosen to replace Megan Fox. By now most people have heard that Michael Bay was pissed at Megan Fox for making Hitler comments about him. Even in Hollywood where being a douche-bag is part of the job requirement for many, that was crossing a line. So how did Michael Bay replace Megan Fox's hotness? He hired a young Victoria's Secret model with a sexy British accent. I admit, I would probably have done the same. She's just as hot as Megan Fox. She has fulller Angelina Jolie style lips and blonde hair. So unless you've got a fetish for brunettes, you won't notice much of a downgrade.

Now unlike Fox's character, Rosie plays Carley. She's not just hot, she's a successful and motivated woman who basically has the world handed to her. But she ends up humping a guy like Sam Witwicky. Granted, he saved the world and that sort of thing can get plenty of panties wet. But she does seem to really love him, almost to the point where it's kind of laughable. She knows all about his exploits with the Autobots. She also plays a central role in the battle that surrounds them.

So enter the alien killer robots. Like the last movie, it begins in the past. In this world all those conspiracy theory nuts were right. The government was keeping a secret about the moon and it wasn't that we never landed on it. The secret is that on the dark side of the moon that nobody ever saw until we had space travel there was a crashed Autobot ship. This ship fled Cybertron near the end of the war that destroyed it and contained what was thought to be a weapon that could have won it for the Autobots. Fast forward past the old footage of the Cold War and of John F. Kennedy speeches. The Autobots find out that humanity knew about it and didn't see fit to tell them. So they organized a flight back to the moon where they retrieved the lone survivor of the ship, Sentinel Prime. He's sort of like the Godfather for the Autobots. He taught Optimus Prime to be the badass he later became. Using the Matrix of Leadership that was recovered in Transformers 2, he revives Sentinel Prime. This is when shit starts blowing up.

The Decepticons under the somewhat rusted Megatron find out that Sentinel Prime is back and they're after the weapon from that ship. The Autobots try to protect the weapon and Sentinel Prime. Then there's a twist you might not expect for a Michael Bay. Sentinel Prime betrays the Autobots, revealing that he made a deal with the Decepticons. He stopped giving a shit about his allies and embraced his inner douche-bag, making a deal with the Decepticons to use his weapon to rebuild Cybertron. Now how does he plan to do that? By using these special pillars, he's going to literally transport Cybertron to Earth and turn Earth into the equivalent of a North Korean labor camp. See Sentinel Prime isn't like Megatron in that he wants to kill humans just because they're disgusting, ugly, and still shit foul-smelling biomass from various holes. He hates them because they don't see alien robots with advanced technology and the ability to crush them with their pinky fingers as being superior. Unlike Megatron, who is just a douche, you can sort of understand where Prime is coming from. He just wants his home back and if a bunch of flesh bags who can't even settle simple land disputes in the Middle East get wiped out, so be it.

It sets the stage for a massive battle that engulfs over half the movie. It's not all just CG and explosions though. There are more complex plots here that you would never know from what the critics spout on Rotten Tomatoes. Unlike the previous two movies, the Decepticons have employed human allies. One of those allies is the boss for Sam's girlfriend, Carley. That's how she gets caught up in this battle. Her boss is one of those pigs who feels entitled to stick his penis in anything that's pretty enough to be a Victoria's Secret model. He believes that the only way to survive is to side with the winners and he believes that will be the Decepticons. For a while, it looks like he's right.

With help from Sentinel Prime, the Decepticons bring in a massive army that utterly lays waste to Chicago. I'm guessing the producer might be a registered member of the Tea Party because that's President Obama's old stomping ground. This time the destruction is a lot more graphic. Unlike the previous two films, it shows the Decepticons murdering humans like a kid using a magnifying glass to kill ants. There are shots where people literally have the flesh blown off their bones. It's pretty fucking graphic for a Michael Bay film, but it adds to the over-the-top feeling of the movie.

In the end it's up to Sam to get into Chicago with help from Major Lennox and his crew from the previous two movies. He has to get to Sentinel Prime, shut down the pillars, and rescue his hot girlfriend in the process. Unlike the last movie he does try to contribute by taking out one of the Decepticons. Granted it was Starscream, but it's still something worth bragging about. In the course of this battle some Autobots do die, but some major Decepticons die as well. It's the kind of big fight that's supposed to cap off a trilogy. In the end Sam and the Autobots stand tall. It takes quite a while. The battle scene is more drawn out than the NFL lockout. In some parts it drags, but there's always a shit ton of explosive effects to keep your nerves overloaded at all times. It's not a movie you can sleep through even if you're hammered and isn't that the point of all Michael Bay films? You want social commentary, go see something by Spike Lee. You want killer robots, hot chicks, explosions, and alien conspiracies, see Transformers. You'll get everything you expect.

That's how I feel this movie should be assessed. It doesn't try to portray itself as being too deep. If you go in expecting to see flashy effects and killer robots, you won't be disappointed. If you go in asking for more, you will be let down. But seriously, why would you go into a Michael Bay movie expecting something more when the premise involves killer alien robots? That's not how it's billed. That's not how it's ever been billed. If you like this kind of over-the-top escapism, you'll enjoy it. If you liked the last two movies or even just one of the last two movies, you'll find plenty to enjoy here.

That's not to say it doesn't have it's flaws. It does drag towards the end. And Rosie Huntington isn't really much of an upgrade over Megan Fox. She's just as hot and for most of the movie, she's just eye-candy that occasionally contributes in a small way. But overall, it's exactly what it makes itself out to be. It's a Michael Bay film with rock music and killer robots. Go in expecting that and you won't be disappointed. That's why I give Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon a 4 out of 5. It's the same score I would give the other two movies. Together, they depict a solid trilogy that offers a delightful take on the Transformers mythos. It's not going to be extremely deep. It's fucking alien robots and interstellar wars. Expecting anything more than that is just expecting too much. Transformers is what it is and it's as awesome as it intends to be. Nuff said!

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