The origins of Faceplant are very simple. Myself, Enosh, and Tophat are all video game nerds. We wanted to place to write reviews and voice opinions on said video games. However, it soon became apparent that limiting the site to JUST video games would be difficult, considering they take a long time to play, are expensive, and we all have jobs. So we expanded into other stuff, namely movies, web comics, and books. The third film in the Transformers franchise blurs this distinction. Basically, this movie is a giant video game. Oh sure, there’s a plot, and characters, and acting. And to be honest, while none of it is great, most of it is at least good. But the reason people are seeing this movie, and the reason I saw this movie, was that GIANT ROBOTS fight OTHER GIANT ROBOTS. The most exciting scenes in the film involve no human beings, just CGI mech throwdowns. Thus, it feels like a video game. This isn’t a critique though, the special effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a movie OR video game. Robot carnage wrapped around a decent plot with a few interesting characters results in exactly what Transformers 3 was going for from the start; a summer blockbuster that focuses on spectacle over substance and will gross about one bazillion dollars in profits. Mission Accomplished.
I’ll admit, I never saw the second Transformers movie. I enjoyed the first then heard number two was atrocious and decided to skip it. Apparently not much happened, because it seemed to me this film picked up where the first left off, with Megatron alive but weak, Optimus Prime and the Autobots helping the humans with any remaining Decepticons, and Shia LaBeouf having a hot girlfriend that seems a little out of his league considering he’s pretty much a loser who just happens to be friends with awesome sentient robots. The Autobots seem to have everything under control until some information comes to light that there may be a crashed Transformer ship somewhere on the moon. Suddenly finding themselves in a race to with the Decepticons to discover what the ship contains, the Autobots end up finding their old leader and Optimus Prime’s mentor, Sentinel Prime. Sentinel is voiced by Leonard Nemoy! Whether he’s showing up in Fringe or voicing Transformers, I’m glad to see Spock doing things again.
Sentinel tells of a powerful technology he had in his possession that can teleport anything to anyplace, but of course he sort of lost it. I won’t really explain everything as not to go all spoilers on you, but suffice it to say that both Autobots and Decepticons have vested interest in finding this technology and are going to fight each other to do it. LaBeouf, again playing Sam Witwicky, starts the film out just trying to find a job to appease his parents (again hilarious as played by Kevin Dunn and Julie White) and to quit being a free loader off his incredibly rich girlfriend Carly, played by the newcomer to this series Rosie Huntington-Whitely. I give credit to director Michael Bay in a couple of areas involving her character. First, there’s no huge amount of time spent on how Sam and Carly got into a relationship together, there’s one flashback scene showing how they met, and from there we just fill in the blanks of them dating and becoming a serious couple. Having some sort of courtship in a film like this wouldn’t be necessary in an already over two-hour movie, especially considering she’s basically just replacing Megan Fox. The second thing involves Megan Fox, namely that this film actually takes a couple of shots at her, though in a subtle indirect manner. Considering the public feud Fox and Michael Bay had about her departure from the franchise, it was nice to see a tiny hint of breaking the four wall in the movie.
The cast actually performs pretty well for the most part, including some newcomers. John Malkovich plays Sam’s new boss in what amounted to a smaller role than I expected considering he’s John freaking Malkovich. As usual though when Malkovich does a comedic character (go see Red!) he’s hilarious. Francis McDormand plays Mearing, head of National Intelligence, who runs the entire Autobot operation for the US Government. Her name alone brings some weight another small role, and she even gets a couple good comedic lines as well. In fact this whole movie made me laugh (on purpose!) much more than I thought it would. John Turturro returns as Simmons, sort of crazy former FBI agent, and is just as wacky as you’d expect him to be. An unexpected highlight was Alan Tudyk’s Dutch, Simmons’s assistant. I won’t give away his somewhat unique demeanor and skill set exhibited in this movie, but suffice it to say he gets some of the biggest laughs.
A total surprise to me was Patrick Dempsey playing the human bad guy, starting with him hitting on Carly in front of Sam. I thought McDreamy himself trying to steal Sam’s girlfriend would be a throw away almost joke that wouldn’t get much screen time, but Dempsey’s role quickly became bigger and legitimately surprising. It’s not shaking the foundations of cinema or anything, but I enjoyed the film going a different route than I expected it too.
But let’s be honest, the real stars of this movie are the Cybertron natives themselves, and holy crap do they look good. Shockwave makes an appearance and he is MASSIVE. Optimus Prime with his huge glowing sword eviscerating puny Decepticons takes me back to being eight years old and loving the old Transformers tv show. Shootouts in Russia, more freeway fights, or using the city of Chicago as a battlefield for the last 45 minutes of the movie, it all looks spectacular. There’s still an ever so slight disconnect between the bots and actual actors when they’re on-screen together, but the truly stunning action of takes place with no humans on-screen anyway, and that is perfect.
The downside to this movie is that it goes on too long. As much as I enjoyed the action, the climatic battle scene in Chicago really starts to drag, especially the parts involving Sam and Epps (Tyrese Gibson) traversing through the ruined city. After about the third time they had to escape a collapsing building, I was about done. Getting to the much more interesting ROBOT FIGHTS faster would have helped the movie not wear out its welcome a bit. I understand Michael Bay probably wanted the biggest, longest, and craziest action set piece of all time to end his movie with, but an audience can only take so much. This is popcorn entertainment, not indie drama, so keeping it shorter and sweet would have been ideal.
There is a good reason Transformers made over 20 million dollars even up against Harry Potter this past weekend. Whether you enjoy Michael Bay movies or not (I do) the man has tapped into a crowd pleasing franchise with Transformers, and he knows how to hit the marks with it. It being too long or some of the characters being not that interesting will be forgotten when Optimus Prime is on-screen. Visually there really is no other movie that can compare to what this movie does. I don’t think anybody is going in to Transformers for the finely constructed plot anyway. This is the true definition of a Hollywood summer blockbuster, but it’s one that has amazing visuals, is funny, and enough likeable actors involved to keep the audience interested for the duration. Oh, and at one point, Optimus prime WIELDS A GIANT BATTLE AXE. This review could have been that one sentence and convinced a healthy portion of my age range to go see it.
Filed under: Games, Movies | Tagged: Alan Tudyk, Autobots, Bumblebee, Cybertron, Dark of the Moon Review, Decepticons, Francis McDormand, giant worm robot, John Malkovich, John Turturro, McDreamy, Megan Fox, Megatron, Optimus Prime, Patrick Dempsey, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Sam Witwicky, Sentinel Prime, Shia LaBeouf, Shockwave, Star Scream, Transformers, Transformers Dark of the Moon |