Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) Movie Review

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Spunky human hero Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) returns to save the day for the third time alongside his Autobot buddies, led by big rig badass Optimus Prime. Now out of college (courtesy of a Government-paid Ivy League education — he did save the world twice before, after all, it’s the least they could do), Sam has landed a prestigious job … in the mailroom of a company run by the (of course) eccentric John Malkovich. Oh yeah, Sam’s also got a new girlfriend, British beauty Carly (Victoria’s Secret supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, effortlessly standing in for the fired Megan Fox; standing around looking hot isn’t exactly brain surgery, after all), who works for a smarmy, high-flying playboy played by one of those dreamy doctors from those soap opera doctor shows what’s-his-name.

As “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” opens, we get a revisionist take on the events leading to the moon landing by Neil Armstrong and the boys. JFK’s reasons for going to the moon, we learn, was actually the crash-landing of a Transformers spaceship on the lunar rock. Fast-forward to the present, where Optimus Prime and the Autobots are continuing to root out Decepticons wherever they find them; the good machines are working alongside faithful Army guy Lennox (Josh Duhamel), now head of a not-so-secret Autobot-human task force housed inside a building that, it seems, everyone knows about. But the Decepticons, still led by a ravaged Megatron (who has definitely seen better days) have a plan, and it involves an ancient Autobot that has been trapped on the moon all this time — Sentinel Prime, Optimus’ mentor and former leader of the Autobots, thought long lost. Soon, the Decepticons have launched their latest scheme, which if successful, would enslave mankind. That’s Decepticons for ya — it’s always go big or go home with these guys.

Announced early on as the last film on the franchise for both director Michael Bay and star Shia LaBeouf, “Dark of the Moon” certainly feels like a swan song by the duo. It’s a loud, funny, and even at over two and a half hours, manages to be a breezy sci-fi action movie stitched together with an obscene amount of spectacular action set pieces involving elaborate robot action and outrageous humans vs. robots battles. After two movies that have combined to make over $1.5 billion dollars in global box office, it’s easy to imagine that Bay and company were given a blank check and unlimited resources with which to spin their latest robot invasion yarn. Certainly, they had enough money and gumption and Hollywood know-how to turn the city of Chicago into a battlefield that occupies the film’s entire Third Act, essentially one giant action set piece that runs for nearly a whole breathless hour.

There is only enough “story” to drive the film from one action scene to the next, but really, if you’re paying your money to see deep narrative plot points from a movie about robots from outer space that can transform into cool looking sports cars and that like to fight each other at every opportunity, you are seriously in need of some clinical help. The early parts of the film are devoted to Sam and his new life with new ladylove Carly, and Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger certainly don’t miss every opportunity to take shots at their former leading lady. Let’s just say Megan Fox should probably not attend opening night of “Dark of the Moon”. As with the previous two films, the comedy comes in the form of some joke-cracking robots that run around in the background, serving no real purpose other than comedy relief (and thankfully, these comedy reliefs have been stripped off any possible “ethnicity”, if you know what I mean). Sam’s miserable post-college life (hot as heck girlfriend notwithstanding) lends itself to some nice gags, including a hilarious series of doomed job interviews that concludes in front of John Malkovich, hamming it up as Sam’s unhinged employer. “The Hangover’s” Ken Jeong also lends his usual kookiness as a fellow officemate of Sam’s who knows a secret or two about the fighting robots.

As “Transformers” movies go, “Dark of the Moon” is definitely bigger and a hell of a lot more violent than the previous two movies combined. The alien robots are apparently common knowledge in the world now, and the Autobots seem to roam freely, mixing it up with their Decepticon rivals at every opportunity — on highways, freeways, city blocks, and basically trashing up the planet every other 30 minutes. Frances McDormand joins the cast as a Government suit named Mearing who is both amusing and annoying, but all awesome. Another great addition is “Firefly’s” Alan Tudyk, playing a character name Dutch, a former spy badass turned personal executive assistant to John Turturro’s ex-spook. When Megatron launches his latest plan for world conquest, it involves what appears to be the wholesale slaughter of Chicago’s citizenry, with civilians vaporized throughout the movie by hulking machines with hulking weaponry. In some instances, I thought I was watching Steven Spielberg’s remake of “War of the Worlds” all over again.

If “Dark of the Moon” is indeed Bay’s last movie on the franchise, he’s certainly going out with one hell of a bang. The film moves at such a fast clip that it’s liable to keep you breathless, with a great balance of comedy and action and heroics and unbelievable action set pieces. Really, Bay has outdone himself here, and while narratively speaking “Dark of the Moon” isn’t too much of an improvement over “Revenge of the Fallen” (but then again, I’m one of the few people who didn’t think that movie was an unmitigated disaster), he doesn’t seem to have lost any of his love for the fighting robots one bit. And finally, it’ll be interesting to see if the producers will be able to rope LaBeouf back as Sam Witwicky for future installments (because let’s face it, there WILL be more installments), especially since at this point he has so perfectly embodied Earth’s savior and best friend of the transforming good guy robots that it’ll be hard to see anyone standing in for him. But as long as the fighting robots return, more “Transformers” movies will always be ready for the making. And last I heard, Optimius Prime, Bumblebee, and the rest of these guys don’t have agents to re-negotiate their contracts. Yet.

Michael Bay (director) / Ehren Kruger (screenplay)
CAST: Shia LaBeouf … Sam Witwicky
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley … Carly
Josh Duhamel … Lennox
John Turturro … Simmons
Tyrese Gibson … Epps
Patrick Dempsey … Dylan
Frances McDormand … Mearing
John Malkovich … Bruce Brazos


Buy Transformers: Dark of the Moon on DVD

Author: Nix

Editor/Writer at BeyondHollywood.com. Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at) beyondhollywood.com.
  • TRDPOD

    Glad to hear! I too enjoyed the second feature. People want too much from a Transformer movie. I’ve already purchased my ticket for a Friday night showing a few days ago. I Can’t wait.

    I know how much you hate 3D and probably think I’m an idiot for not being able to wait to see this in 3D, but thats cool haha. I’ve heard the action scenes are amazing in 3D. This is a bonus for me.

    As always, thanks for the review.

    • Simian33

      i too loved the second feature and really want to see this in 3d even though im against the idea of 3d films. im glad that im not the only one.

  • This Movie SUCKS

    What? You dont talk about all the missing scenes?
    You dont talk about Optimus Prime betraying himself becoming a cold blood killer or megatron becoming a useless bum witouth personality?

    This movie SUCKS.

    They have changed the robots personalities, there a lot of scenes of “we have to do x”, and then its done without explanation… If by “fast clip” you mean that i would say “this film is organized like sh**”.

    Total waste of money and time. Pathetic.

  • This Movie SUCKS

    What? You dont talk about all the missing scenes?
    You dont talk about Optimus Prime betraying himself becoming a cold blood killer or megatron becoming a useless bum witouth personality?

    This movie SUCKS.

    They have changed the robots personalities, there a lot of scenes of “we have to do x”, and then its done without explanation… If by “fast clip” you mean that i would say “this film is organized like sh**”.

    Total waste of money and time. Pathetic.

  • This Movie SUCKS

    What? You dont talk about all the missing scenes?
    You dont talk about Optimus Prime betraying himself becoming a cold blood killer or megatron becoming a useless bum witouth personality?

    This movie SUCKS.

    They have changed the robots personalities, there a lot of scenes of “we have to do x”, and then its done without explanation… If by “fast clip” you mean that i would say “this film is organized like sh**”.

    Total waste of money and time. Pathetic.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      “Betraying himself”? “Robots Personalities”? Dude, you do realize they’re ALIEN ROBOTS FROM OUTER SPACE that can transform into cars, right? Wow. See my “clinical help” comment above.

      • http://www.facebook.com/moshik5 Moshik Bachar

        ahh people…. damn!
        ITS A SCI-FI film, about big metalic robots… and it is.. ahmmm… WOW!!!
        people say that the 1st one was childish and needed more robot-ish scences and i agree…
        then the 2nd movie came out, people started to cry about the script and plot and shit like “i cant understand who is who and why”… ok… i understand…
        but now… the 3rd came out… and it still not good enough!?!??!?!

        1. The first section of the movie was the main plot… and its GOOD, the story was easy to understand, the characters were pretty good… the humor was good, and it didnt crush the movie like the last one…. it was actully very funny… except for one (!!) scene…

        2. The Art and the CGI was out of this world!!!! as an Animation student i saw things there that made me search my jaw down on the floor… and dont let me start talking about the AMAZING use of the 3D tec’… for all u anti-i hate 3d-its way to dark-nothing was good in 3d since Avatar- people, i really think u should go and see it!!
        (damn i need one of thous fly-suits…. hasos… the jumping scene got me so into it that i almost jumped from the 7th raw to the 2nd, while trying to fly…!! :)

        well, im not going to write anymore cuse its useless to try convince people who dont GET the idea of Action – Sci.fi movie, and expect to see f.f.coppola…
        U dont want explosions and robots, so dont go and dont complain after!!!
        if u still wanna go.. just go… and enjoy it…

        btw, im not a native english, so forgive me if im writing wrong…

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

          You did just fine my friend. Outstanding. :thumbs up:

      • http://www.facebook.com/moshik5 Moshik Bachar

        ahh people…. damn!
        ITS A SCI-FI film, about big metalic robots… and it is.. ahmmm… WOW!!!
        people say that the 1st one was childish and needed more robot-ish scences and i agree…
        then the 2nd movie came out, people started to cry about the script and plot and shit like “i cant understand who is who and why”… ok… i understand…
        but now… the 3rd came out… and it still not good enough!?!??!?!

        1. The first section of the movie was the main plot… and its GOOD, the story was easy to understand, the characters were pretty good… the humor was good, and it didnt crush the movie like the last one…. it was actully very funny… except for one (!!) scene…

        2. The Art and the CGI was out of this world!!!! as an Animation student i saw things there that made me search my jaw down on the floor… and dont let me start talking about the AMAZING use of the 3D tec’… for all u anti-i hate 3d-its way to dark-nothing was good in 3d since Avatar- people, i really think u should go and see it!!
        (damn i need one of thous fly-suits…. hasos… the jumping scene got me so into it that i almost jumped from the 7th raw to the 2nd, while trying to fly…!! :)

        well, im not going to write anymore cuse its useless to try convince people who dont GET the idea of Action – Sci.fi movie, and expect to see f.f.coppola…
        U dont want explosions and robots, so dont go and dont complain after!!!
        if u still wanna go.. just go… and enjoy it…

        btw, im not a native english, so forgive me if im writing wrong…

      • thisMovieSUCKass

        Betraying himself because in the last TWENTY years i had never seen optimus shooting someone in the face. Or killing someone who is surrendering as megatron. Wtf??? Thats not optimus, its like Superman cutting lex luthors head with an axe. Maybe you dont have a fucking clue about transformers and dont know their personalities, but they DO HAVE IT. Its not just 3D and explosions what makes a film great. This film doesnt even seem to have a villian!!! Megatron has a strong personality, and in this film he is a crying bum who lets sentinel manipulare him. You think is ok changing the personality of characters just because they are transformers? If so, you need to learn a lot about cinema dude. (like bay has to learn about cinema and transformers)

        But anyway, not only they change their personalities. Where is the scene where OP get his truck?
        What happened to bumblebee and the rest in the middle of the battle when by mágic they appear deffeated?
        Why didnt sentinel accept the Matrix when optimus gave it to him? Or why didnt he killed OP?
        How did sentinel end up on the moon if he was shooted down in cybertron? Where did the thousands of decepticons of the moon came from and what the hell where they doing
        Wats the purpose of putting the victorias secret model at this film? Does she talk more than 2 phrases?

        Maybe you think you are critic but you dont even see that this films has some serios flaws.
        Great balance of comedy? Tell me a funny scene… Wtf? You are retard who feels that some 3D robots and explosions are enough? Well, you are not alone.

        • Hmoobyaj

          Sentinel appear on the moon because he was inside the ship…. If you payed attention Optimus was talking about the decepticons shooting the ship down because it contains the pillars and the only person who can bring cybertron back to the way it was…

        • Hmoobyaj

          Sentinel appear on the moon because he was inside the ship…. If you payed attention Optimus was talking about the decepticons shooting the ship down because it contains the pillars and the only person who can bring cybertron back to the way it was…

      • thisMovieSUCKass

        Ah, and the best of all, why did the decepticons destroy the sentinels slip if he was with them? Ohhh… But it looked so good right? Pff….

        Its like f****ng a victorias secret model just to see she has nothing more than looks.

      • thisMovieSUCKass

        Ah, and the best of all, why did the decepticons destroy the sentinels slip if he was with them? Ohhh… But it looked so good right? Pff….

        Its like f****ng a victorias secret model just to see she has nothing more than looks.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

          So you’re saying you love this movie, right? Cause, damn, you sure have thought a lot about it. :) Bet you’ll be first in line to see Part 4.

          • thisMovieSucks

            Not exactly, i was out of the cinema trying to figure out what happened, where some scenes went, why some characters are there, and others dont… Because i left the cinema asking myself “What the hell was this piece of shit? How did someone spend so much money to do this crap?!”

            The previous films had nothing to do with the real transformers story or look, but at least the personalities where there. And less Sam is always better… Come on, optimus doesnt even have 20 lines and megatron has like 6, transformers 3 or Sam witwicky 3? I can see transformers 1 or 2 again, but i will never see this shit again.

            Btw, my conclusión after the movie is that the best is that probably there is not going to be a 4th film… This one need to be redone as hulk…

          • A Brenaman

            Wow, I guess you can do better than that movie then coz ur all high and mighty. I love it, I love the action, that’s it. you sound like a pussy!

    • Anonymous

      No offense, but I would’ve assumed that by now, most fans of the Transformer canon would’ve figured out that the movies are as accurate to established characters and continuity as both “Clash of the Titans” are to Greek Mythology; the robots may be the draw, but they’re still special effects so the actors get the benefit of anything resembling characterization. There are problems with the movie, but not because it strays from the source material.

  • Kris

    I did not like the movie. I didn’t see the connections of the 2nd to the 3rd film when a certain information was said in the 3rd film (pillars gone in the ship since 1969? Harvesting energon for cybertron bullsh**). There was very little attention given for the robots so they never shined on the movie, even Optimus Prime, that their characters were not establish. And the new girl Carly has no personality at all! The film could have gone smooth without her! And how did she know she was talking to Megatron? I never even seen them two together in one clip except for that “talk”, which btw I found so ridiculous. Maybe Sam gave her a very detailed description of Megatron? The only good thing I can say about this movie: nice visual effects, as always.

    • http://www.facebook.com/moshik5 Moshik Bachar

      she saw megatron and sentinal fighting on the roof, when sentinal told megatron that he will work with him, but never for him..
      so… she saw it… she “did” 1+1 and went to talk with megatron (aka sentinal’s bitch)… ;)

    • Vlalits

      you motherfucker

  • Shazam!

    Nix – you mention the absence of the obvious ethnic based humour (thankfully!) – can you please tell me that they’ve also done away with the multitude of testicle jokes!? I thought TF2 was a good action flick, but from a script perspective it felt like it was written by giggling 13 year olds!

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      Heh. Unfortunately, there are a couple of groin/gay bathroom jokes courtesy of Ken Jeong’s character that some (humorless) people may get angry over.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Nix

      Heh. Unfortunately, there are a couple of groin/gay bathroom jokes courtesy of Ken Jeong’s character that some (humorless) people may get angry over.

  • Traskmister

    As far as overall action the third installment is by far the best. As for the plot and new girl Carly Horrible actress and even a worse underwear model she’s nothing to look at. Megan Fox did a much better job!!

  • Traskmister

    As far as overall action the third installment is by far the best. As for the plot and new girl Carly Horrible actress and even a worse underwear model she’s nothing to look at. Megan Fox did a much better job!!

  • Kidney

    Watching it in IMAX is well worth it, 3d scenes are out of this world!

  • Urizen

    Well done. It’s good to see that some critics can still actually evaluate movies based on their merits instead of just regurgitating more of the same psuedo-intellectual Bay-slamming. Yes, the action sequences take precedence over the character drama, imagine that. It’s called an “action movie.” Constantly belaboring the lack of drama in a Transformers movie is about as relevant as complaining about the lack of realistic plotting in Looney Tunes.