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.
  • Mnsor

    To say this is what you should espect when you go see a movie about giant robots is like saying the whole sci-fi genre is only a soulless, lackluster bullshit, meant only for children. It doesn’t take an in-depth knowledge in movie history to understand that this is not true, that even this kind of movies benefit from a good story telling and that very often they can give you an enlightening insight into human nature… also, having consequencial scenes (something Bay doesn’t seem to get right…) is not a bonus only sophisticated watchers demand: it is just one of the basic requirements a movie (ANY KIND OF MOVIE!!!) should fulfill.

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

      It’s not a question of demanding more from your movies (sure, you can demand all you want), it’s a question of seeing the trailers, the pictures, knowing the history behind Transformers, and then still going in there expecting the second coming of Citizen Kane. DOTM gave you everything it promised; nothing more, nothing less. If you expected more, and was disappointed, I would suggest blaming the guy in the mirror and not Michael Bay. Or, if you’re like most reviewers on the net, you went in there not hoping to see something good, but so you could run out and start thrashing it so your friends will think you’re oh so smart, gosh, look, you’re deconstructing a movie about transforming robots from outer space! Boy ain’t you a smarty pants!

      • Mnsor

        I don’t think you should be speculating on what kind of person I am. You shouldn’t in general, but especially you shouldn’t do it in order to defend your opinion on a movie. But since you insist, I’ll tell you what kind of person i am: one who went to see the movie with an open minded attitude, hoping it’d be a good movie and ready to give Michael Bay all the credit he’d deserved if that was the case. Unfortunally I didn’t think it was a good movie… Is that so irritating that a person has a different opinion than yours? Oh, and talking about promises…”DOTM gave you everythin it promised” you said: it didn’t! We were told Shockwave was the main villain, way more vicious and evil than Megatron…turned out to be a completely unimportant character. Bay said everything wrong in the 2nd movie in terms of plot, humor and characterisation was fixed …was it? I leave the answer to you, but remember: this is just a discussion on a movie, anyone can express their opinion without necesserely dissing people or feeling offender if someone doesn’t share their view. I still think that if you liked the movie you’re lucky, because you had a good night at the movies….

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

          Of course Bay is going to say DOTM is the greatest movie ever made. That’s his job. Isn’t that obvious? Welcome to the real world.

          And as to me having issues with differing opinions — let me remind you that it was YOU who disagreed with ME first. Either everyone’s opinion matters and we can all disagree, or only your opinion matters, and anyone who disagrees with you has a personality problem. Sounds to me like you’re speculating on what kind of person I am just to defend your opinion …

          …but I could be wrong.

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

          Of course Bay is going to say DOTM is the greatest movie ever made. That’s his job. Isn’t that obvious? Welcome to the real world.

          And as to me having issues with differing opinions — let me remind you that it was YOU who disagreed with ME first. Either everyone’s opinion matters and we can all disagree, or only your opinion matters, and anyone who disagrees with you has a personality problem. Sounds to me like you’re speculating on what kind of person I am just to defend your opinion …

          …but I could be wrong.

          • Mnsor

            I don’t think so: saying I didn’t like this movie means that I basically desagree with everybody who did like it, not just you. But by any means is it a personal attack or judgment about the afore mentioned people. I’m sorry you cannot see it…

      • Mnsor

        I don’t think you should be speculating on what kind of person I am. You shouldn’t in general, but especially you shouldn’t do it in order to defend your opinion on a movie. But since you insist, I’ll tell you what kind of person i am: one who went to see the movie with an open minded attitude, hoping it’d be a good movie and ready to give Michael Bay all the credit he’d deserved if that was the case. Unfortunally I didn’t think it was a good movie… Is that so irritating that a person has a different opinion than yours? Oh, and talking about promises…”DOTM gave you everythin it promised” you said: it didn’t! We were told Shockwave was the main villain, way more vicious and evil than Megatron…turned out to be a completely unimportant character. Bay said everything wrong in the 2nd movie in terms of plot, humor and characterisation was fixed …was it? I leave the answer to you, but remember: this is just a discussion on a movie, anyone can express their opinion without necesserely dissing people or feeling offender if someone doesn’t share their view. I still think that if you liked the movie you’re lucky, because you had a good night at the movies….

      • Mnsor

        I don’t think you should be speculating on what kind of person I am. You shouldn’t in general, but especially you shouldn’t do it in order to defend your opinion on a movie. But since you insist, I’ll tell you what kind of person i am: one who went to see the movie with an open minded attitude, hoping it’d be a good movie and ready to give Michael Bay all the credit he’d deserved if that was the case. Unfortunally I didn’t think it was a good movie… Is that so irritating that a person has a different opinion than yours? Oh, and talking about promises…”DOTM gave you everythin it promised” you said: it didn’t! We were told Shockwave was the main villain, way more vicious and evil than Megatron…turned out to be a completely unimportant character. Bay said everything wrong in the 2nd movie in terms of plot, humor and characterisation was fixed …was it? I leave the answer to you, but remember: this is just a discussion on a movie, anyone can express their opinion without necesserely dissing people or feeling offender if someone doesn’t share their view. I still think that if you liked the movie you’re lucky, because you had a good night at the movies….

      • Mnsor

        I don’t think you should be speculating on what kind of person I am. You shouldn’t in general, but especially you shouldn’t do it in order to defend your opinion on a movie. But since you insist, I’ll tell you what kind of person i am: one who went to see the movie with an open minded attitude, hoping it’d be a good movie and ready to give Michael Bay all the credit he’d deserved if that was the case. Unfortunally I didn’t think it was a good movie… Is that so irritating that a person has a different opinion than yours? Oh, and talking about promises…”DOTM gave you everythin it promised” you said: it didn’t! We were told Shockwave was the main villain, way more vicious and evil than Megatron…turned out to be a completely unimportant character. Bay said everything wrong in the 2nd movie in terms of plot, humor and characterisation was fixed …was it? I leave the answer to you, but remember: this is just a discussion on a movie, anyone can express their opinion without necesserely dissing people or feeling offender if someone doesn’t share their view. I still think that if you liked the movie you’re lucky, because you had a good night at the movies….

  • Dingalinger666

    fuck transformers i want megan

  • Dingalinger666

    fuck transformers i want megan

  • A Brenaman

    It’s a freakin ACTION Movie, not an Indie Movie where they all have to bee TOO concerned with “character development” (only pussies are concerned about that in an action movie). Fuck this!

  • Glendora080665

    As long as my son gets to see his favorite Autobot characters and some action Im happy. Did you think it was going to be nominated for an Oscar for the acting? Give the movie a break.

  • Glendora080665

    As long as my son gets to see his favorite Autobot characters and some action Im happy. Did you think it was going to be nominated for an Oscar for the acting? Give the movie a break.

  • annonymous

    This movie is bad. I even took the time to write why I think it sucks!

    1. Patrick Dempsey is usually a decent and lovable actor. He was a huge disappointment. Not because he was a bad guy, but his dialogue and acting are so contradicting and simply incongruent.

    2. the new girl just didn’t fit into a plausible relationship for shia. I mean, Michaela was dating him because of the super adventure they had together. But this girl dating him because he got a medal from the president? and he has no job? please, it’s a movie, but that is just stretching it! Plus, the argument “Michaela just dumped me” was kind of lame and uncreative. It was hard to relate to sam risking everything for another chick when you had seen him so lost for the other one in two previous movies. I guess you can only blame Michael Bay and Megan Fox for being so childlish and unprofessional God-knows-what happened between them.

    3. After two movies, we can do without Sam’s parents and the stupid, not-funny Sector 7 agent. I am glad not to see Sam’s roommate in this movie; it was enough to bare with him in one movie.

    4. The movie is about transformers, yet you can only relate to optimus or bumble bee. No other autobot has a part or scenes were you can relate with them besides optimus and bumble bee. If the movie is about transformers, the real characters of the movie should be them. We related with the twins on the second movie, and they dont make an appearance or mention on the third one. They kill the only other autobot we recognized, ironhide. On a good note to Michael Bay, thank you for eliminating starscream, he was terrible enough since the first one; took you long enough, Michael.

    5. Terrible disappointment to see that an involvement from Steven Spielberg couldn’t deliver a decent movie.

    6. Ok, so the fight scenes were better and less monotonal than transformers 2, but again, the scenes should have some logic and plausibility to them. So Optimus misses like 30 min of battle because he is hanging from wires waiting to be released and all this time not attacked by any decepticons? Trained military men died in the building, but the chick running in heels made it? And her-stupid-good-for-nothing boyfriend too? Megatron defeats sentinel after a pep talk with the VSM? Optimus defeats Megatron with one arm and one hit? Come on!!!!

    I see that I could go on…
    So disappointed cuz i was looking forward to a good movie.

    For those out there defending it as action film. Action film does not excuse crappy acting, crappy script and dialogue, incongruent history, gaps in history (I agree with one comment of to why sentinel didnt take the matrix or killed optimus) and more…. It’s no excuse. They are paid good money; at least do a good job not just in the action!

  • Guest

    There are way too many nerds on this site that, quite obviously, can not just go to a movie, believe it for what it was and enjoy it.

    The movie was great, especially the 3d and is well worth the entire family going to see it. Everyone should stop being so critical of minor plot defects and just admit that they were glued to their seat for the last 1.5 hours.

    Enjoy!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PU5LMN3I6A2BS4JSQ6HF56PHDE salvador

    I love summer action movies, but this one actually made yawn. I was laughing a lot, but this wasn’t mean to be a comedy, its an action movie. Lots of filler here. Movie could have been awesome if they had edited around 30 minutes of filler stuff. What was that with “oh im going to betray optimus crap”. If they had cut it then we would had more non stop action. The same with the bimbo and her ending scene with Megatron. The one new autobot that got lots of time was an inventor called Q. Lame. At least the corrected this error before the end of the movie.
    Slow like hell until they got tho the last fighting sequence and even then it sucked a little bit. Lots of incoherent stuff. Navy seals popping from out of nowhere. And then there’s the optimus vs sentinel vs megatron last fight. What was that?. Even the last fight in the second movie was better.
    The only good action sequence was the one in the highway. Breathtaking.
    Nothing new to see here, glad that Bay and the boy are leaving the franchise, and hoping that someone takes over with some knowledge on how to make a good summer action movie.

  • jgs

    MB & ILM,
    stop doing ugly robot faces like QUE and BRAINS.. LEADFOOT looks awful..