2009. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen wins the never-prestigious Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Picture of the year, amidst near-unanimous savage reviews, beating out such duds as Land of the Lost (horrid), and All About Steve (forgettable).
The movie also made about $850 million worldwide, making a strong case that no one actually gives a shit about reviews. Given the choice, I think you’d take almost a billion dollars if all you had to endure was fanboy sniveling. Watchmen was nearing the end of its theatrical run at the time, so it’s possible they needed something new to whimper about.
Other than those idiotic, racist, unfunny Autobot twins, I didn’t mind ROTF, as I tend not to put too much emotional stake or critical thinking into any movie that involves giant robots turning into other machines. I liked the cling-clang mindless stupidity of it, but can understand why some (or even most) didn’t.
Having said that, I’m amazed that Transformers: Dark Of The Moon was ever made, because of all the negative REVIEWS. You’d think that all the hate generated towards director Michael Bay would have forced him to cower into a hole before making a third installment, but I guess all those negative REVIEWS didn’t quite match up to that house and car all those residuals bought him. I guess he and producer Steven Spielberg will have to dry their tears with hundred dollar bills.
But the real question being, how can the Transformers franchise possibly survive without Megan Fox, since she, like the reviews, was crucial to the box-office success of the previous two movies? Maybe it’ll just limp along and people will just have to pay attention to the robots for a change. I know, it’ll be tough, but we’ll be able to get through it together.
Good thing, because Dark Of The Moon is the best entry of the Trans-franchise, and it would do well to end the series on this note, but that’s not likely given how much money DOTM is going to rake in.
Time for some SPOILER TALK! Below are SPOILERS for Transformers: Dark Of The Moon. Feel free to add your thoughts in the Comments section.
Transformers 3 begins with Optimus Prime voicing a prologue. Don’t worry, it’s not as long and tedious as that one from Green Lantern. Prime tells of the war between the Decepticons and Autobots on their home planet of Cybertron and how, to paraphrase The Room, it’s tearing them apart. The Autobots send their great leader Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy, who voiced Galvatron in the animated Transformers movie and voiced Spock in that other thing he did) on a super-secret mission away from Cybertron, but his ship is shot down and it crash lands.
Here is where it involves us. Sentinel Prime’s ship crash lands on the moon. Our moon.
It’s the 1960s, and techy geeks with dark wire-rimmed glasses who ignore their kids and whose wives smoke while they’re pregnant notice it on their ancient 60s machinery. They report it to some higher-ups. Those higher-ups report it to the President. That President is John F. Kennedy. JFK says we need to get to the moon and recover those items before those pinko commie Russians do. Hence, the Space Race.
Yes, President Kennedy makes another appearance this summer at the movies. Because despite what history tells us, the Space Race was due to Giant Robots and the Cuban Missile Crisis was decided by mutants and really chintzy CGI during the climax. No wonder President Kennedy trysted the night away with Marilyn Monroe. All that pressure, all that secrecy.
I don’t think we’ll surprised when it’s revealed during the Smurfs movie that it was in fact Brainy Smurf, Papa Smurf, Premenstrual Smurf, and Gargamel that were behind the Kennedy assassination. Though I’m sure none of us will be stupid enough to actually SEE the Smurfs movie unless we’re dragged by our children. BTW – Katy Perry is just a VOICE in Smurfs, so don’t waste your money buying a ticket thinking you’re going to see her boobs on the big screen.
That last sentence just lost 60% of people who were actually going to see The Smurfs. Make it 80%.
Sorry about the detour. Back to the machines.
Eventually, we made it to the moon, beating the Russians. Not only did Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Co. make it to the moon first, they were also the first humans ever to set eyes on Transformers, although the latter they couldn’t reveal to the public. But I think we’d all agree that being the first people to set foot on the moon is also pretty impressive.
The astronauts find Sentinel Prime and his ship, and the handful of white men that know about it decide to keep it a secret. That secret will last years in real time, but about an hour of screentime because we’re about to go forward into the future.
It’s Present Day and Sam Witwicky (Shia La Beouf, now looking bored playing the part) is out of college. He’s gotten rid of that irritating roommate from the second movie. Mikaela (Megan Fox) has dumped him, coincidentally after Steven Spielberg had her fired. But that’s okay because he has a new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whitely, looking like Cameron Diaz’ little sister).
Like most people right out of college in this day and age, he’s still job-hunting. But unlike most recent college graduates, Sam has had beings from an alien race stay over at his house, and he’s saved the world a couple of times but of course it’s not the sort of thing he can reveal during a job interview. Good thing Carly is nice enough to spring for the rent while Sam drives a crappy vehicle because his car Bumblebee is off doing something with his real friends the Autobots.
Meanwhile, Autobots are globetrotting for signs of Decepticons. There is some significant activity in the ex-Russian resort known as Chernobyl. Sure, it won’t be inhabitable for the next 20,000 years, but it’s a good thing the Autobots are immune to that sort of thing.
The Autobots and their soldier friends, led by Lennox (Josh Duhamel, owing me an hour and a half of my life back for having to sit through Life as We Know It) arrive at Chernobyl, sightsee some 5-winged birds and 3-headed humans, until they’re attacked by Decepticons.
The Decepticons are scouring Chernobyl for something important, as they’ve sent the one-eyed, gun-handed badass Shockwave to lead their recon mission. Good thing that Prime and the Autobots arrived when they did. But what were the Decepticons looking for? A huge metal MacGuffin that Prime recognizes as technology from his home world Cybertron.
This discovery means that certain humans did have some knowledge about Transformers. A lot more than they’ve let on so far. This makes Prime more than a little miffed.
Back in the U.S., Prime wants the truth. But can he handle the truth? So it’s up the current Director of Intelligence Mearing (Frances McDormand, the last person you’d expect to see in a Transformers movie) to explain the need for all the secrecy. She and Buzz Aldrin (playing himself and mercifully not given many lines as its clear he’s not an actor) exposit away…
-The technology is part of Sentinel Prime’s ship. Thing is, S-Prime is in some kind of robot coma, and he needs another Prime to help revive him with the Autobot Matrix of leadership. Wonder who that could be?
-Sam finally lands a job under a kooky new boss (John Malkovich, inexplicably cast). Too bad the Decepticons have been eyeing one of his coworkers for extinction. Oh well, in only 2.5 years he can move out of the mailroom and into a better paying, less demeaning job. Unless he gets killed of course. The good news is that at least Carly has a lot cooler/higher paying job with a millionaire playboy boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey, McDreamy playing a McDouchenozzle). Sam suspects Dylan may have eyes for his girlfriend, but there’s a possibility Dylan is set on much bigger game than even he can comprehend.
-And what of Megatron, Starscream, and the rest of the Decepticons, left with their tails between their legs at the end of Transformers 2? Surely, they’ve spent the past couple of years planning something…only this time with the help of some very opportunistic, very naïve humans.
What works with Transformers 3 –
1) Not sure if Michael Bay actually learned his lessons from the weaknesses of parts 1 and 2, or if someone with more authority was looking over his shoulder this time, but DOTM’s final act climax is, by far, the best, least tedious of the series. Whereas 1 and 2 just dragged on… 3 moves at brisk, efficient pace, mostly because we know where everyone is and why they’re supposed to be there. Added to the fact that there’s genuine sense of danger to the proceedings (people actually die, a major city gets effed-up) makes the 3D destruction all the more tense. Granted, this is Transformers and not Black Hawk Down, but you’ll be surprised about how much more you’re into it.
2) In jettisoning the clunky “human” subplots that weighed down Transformers 2 (no nauseous “I love You” sequences), sole credited writer Ehren Kreuger makes 3 a lot more efficient even if the humans are given less weight than before. Almost every human character, from John Turturro‘s Simmons, to John Malkovich appearing for no reason, to even Shia Labeouf gets less significance as the movie moves on, but you notice that you don’t really care, since the movie’s not really about the people. It’s not called Humans: Dark of the Moon for a reason.
3) Rose Whitely – How does she does a Megan Fox’s replacement? Just fine. She’s not given much more to do than Fox ever did, but she does it with a slightly clipped British accent, which comes across as less annoying than Fox’ Valley Whine. Not sure that being in a Transformers movie is any gauge for how one might fare as a serious actress, but Whitely does everything required from her adequately. She even handles herself fine in a scene with Frances McDormand, though you wonder if McDormand even knew who she was.
4) The funniest scene in the movie has nothing to do with the Transformers. Not really all that surprising since it involves a tamped-down Ken Jeong (the naked Asian guy from The Hangover movies) in a bathroom. He owns that small scene and makes it the funniest scene of the series. If only it were him in Part 2 instead of those stupid twins.
What doesn’t work –
1) As some kind of concession to the kids in the audience, I guess, some of the juvenile humor is employed, from “comic” relief mini-Transformers to Sam’s grating parents (Julie White and Kevin Dunn). Most of the humor misses the mark by a mile, but, thankfully, most of it’s gone past the first act. I only wished the filmmakers would find some way to kill Sam’s parents violently so I don’t have to roll my eyes every time they appear on screen.
Overall. Not that you need reviews to help you decide whether or not you’ll see something like Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but see it anyway because it’s leagues better than Transformers 2, and the best thing to open since X-Men: First Class. Besides, you’ll need something to watch before the final Harry Potter. The 3D’s not too shabby either, making all those other shitty 3D conversions seem all the worse.