Movie: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
I hated the first two, so I have no idea why I went to see this one. I guess I just want to like these. I love robots and tech and science fiction. These films have so much potential. But they waste it. Like the others, this one starts off well. I loved the way they mixed in historical President Kennedy and moon landing footage with new stuff. The conceit of a Transformer ship crashing on the moon in the 1960s setting off the space race is brilliant. But after that good start, the film just goes into typical Transformer nonsense where the laws of reality don't apply. Parts of it look cool, but I just don't care about anything or anyone since nothing's real and there are no consequences. I've watched the previous films several times because I keep falling asleep during the action scenes and when I wake up, I have no idea what's going on. (Of course, I was confused before I fell asleep.) I realized during this one that as I watch these I naturally try to make sense of things. But these films don't make sense so I literally turn off my brain. If I didn't, I'd go insane. So I turn it off and just try and enjoy the visuals. And that's why I eventually fall asleep. It happened in this one, too, though only for a few minutes -- which I guess means this is the best of the three (that's not saying much). I just don't understand why they can't get some screenwriters with a few brain cells. I mean, the lack of logic is mind-blowing. Like in one scene our hero is on the phone with a spy who then switches to a complicated-looking "encrypted phone" so that their conversation is "secure." Yet the original guy is still on his cell phone! I mean, that's idiotic. It not only wouldn't work (you can't have one-way encryption as the phone on the other end would only hear gibberish) but it obviously wouldn't be secure. In another scene, the boy and the girl apparently break up. While I was baffled by their relationship through-out the film (they did not seem like a couple, even an unlikely one), the break-up scene was incomprehensible. I have no idea why they broke up -- or even if they broke up (it wasn't really clear). Basically she walks in, sees him with spy stuff, and she's like, "I'm leaving" and he's like, "Don't go." Apparently she was mad at him for hanging out with the robots, but I have no idea why: it was like they'd had this fight fifty times before and this was the last straw, but since we didn't see the previous fights, were don't understand any of their shorthand fighting. Sadly, that's actually one of the better scenes in the film, too, because at least there's a vague pretense of acting. Speaking of the girl, what the hell was she doing there? Who is she? Apparently they met at the White House when he was there getting a medal for his heroics in the previous films, but I didn't understand at all why she was there, who she was, how they ended up together, why she liked him, why she was British, or just about anything else about their relationship. And how the heck does she know about the robots? Did he tell her? When? In one scene she says something about how she thought his stories were just stories, not real -- so did she not believe his stories about the robots? If so, then why isn't she surprised to see them? And why do all the top secret government people just accept her along with him simply because she's his girlfriend? I guess the good news is that they found a perfect replacement for Megan Fox: the new actress has a similar skinny-yet-over-sexed body type and the same deadpan acting range. Speaking of acting, there's isn't much for the actors to work with here, but I loved Patrick Dempsey's performance which was terrific. But Frances McDormand's character is too off-putting and I didn't like her strange personality switcheroo mid-movie, and John Malkovich's cameo is just bizarre. (Why would the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company be constantly checking up on a mail room kid? And what the heck was that bit about him basically worshiping the robot?) Maybe these characters were for comic relief but it wasn't very well done. I do like the comedy in these films (it desperately needs the relief), but it's so poorly done most of the time, with lines thrown around so quickly you can't even get the joke. The "action" is similarly fluid: basically everything's a metallic blur (especially the transform sequences which I want to love but they are too fast for me to understand and therefore they just annoy me to death). I can't distinguish one robot from another and when two or eight of them are fighting, they look like a metal tumbleweed. There's a vague attempt to give people critical missions so that all the characters are contributing to the big victory, but there's so much going on and ninety percent of it is pointless (most of the time it seems the moment they accomplish a task they find out it didn't help and there's a new task they now have to do or the world will end). I'm also sick and tired of super-advanced alien races that are so dumb they build a massive planet-wide super-weapon that can be disabled by knocking over a special "control module" bowling pin. (It's like blowing up the Death Star with an M80 dropped in just the right ventilation shaft.) As for plot, don't get me started. There are half-moments of sanity, and then the plot just veers around like a drunk driver with half-assed assassinations, betrayals that make no sense (if the traitor's got the super-weapon that can win the war, his reasoning that he defected to the other side because it was inevitable the bad guys would win is nonsense), and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of bad robots. The bottom line: this is about ten minutes of story stretched into two-and-half hours of silly action nonsense. There are a handful of special effect sequences that are mildly interesting, but even during those reality is so far from being included I found them impossible to enjoy. (Like how come giant robots that can squash a metal dumpster flat with one step can't stop a weaponless teenage-boy-sized man? Or for that matter, why do giant alien robot lifeforms with missiles and special guns fight each other with giant X-Acto knives?) Okay, enough of this. The reality is this film has nothing to do with reality. If you can enjoy it despite that, good luck to you. All that said, of the three films, this one's the best. By the slightest of margins.