Horrible, stupid title aside, the latest (and hopefully last) installment in the Transformers franchise is leagues ahead of its predecessor. It doesn’t quite match the simple thrills of the first one, but it didn’t awkwardly attempt to graft an unnecessary and overly complicated mythology onto the series, and should therefore be held in much higher regard than Revenge of the Fallen.
My main problem with the second film (aside from it being over-long and boring and a complete mess) was the wonky retconning that the whole “Optimus Prime is magic” thing turned out to be. A friend of mine claims that this is my fault for not accepting the world of the movie, but I maintain that it was the producers wanting the dramatic tension of killing a main character and then just deus-ex-machina-ing their way out of it.
Fortunately, none of this came into play during Dark of the Moon (God, that is just awful). Optimus Prime’s magic rejuvenation thing (I couldn’t care less what it’s actually called) still plays a part (by this point it’s canon, so I won’t complain), but the movie as a whole pretty much gets back to the “bad robots be bad, good robots be good, they gon’ fight” aspect that made the first one such good escapist fun.
The plot concerns Megatron and company’s attempt to steal old Autobot technology that would allow them to teleport their home world to Earth’s atmosphere so that they can begin to rebuild (I know that sounds complicated, but they don’t really go into details, to the film’s credit). This obviously upsets the Autobots (given that it would, y’know, destroy everything they’ve come to call home) and so they head to the moon where the Autobot ship carrying the technology crashed after a failed escape attempt, and gather what they can find of it along with Sentinel Prime, the former Autobot leader and the creator of the technology in question.
Back on Earth, Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) is stumbling through life in an ostensibly hilarious slapsticky way. He’s struggling to find a job, his car’s off saving the world without him, his parents are in town, and he’s worried about his love life, even though he should be thanking his lucky stars, what with having netted himself another ridiculously hot girlfriend (Rosie Huntington-Whitely) after it’s revealed that Megan Fox dumped him for one reason or another (my theory: she’s Megan Fox, he’s Shia LeBeouf).
It’s the typical hour of non-robot fights that have become curiously standard in these movies about robots fighting each other, but it’s fairly inoffensive this time out (no pot brownies are accidentally ingested), plus it leads to a superb John Malkovich supporting performance, and a pretty hilarious crack from Sam’s mom pertaining to his new car.
However, the movie does have problems. At 157 minutes, it is still way too long for a summer blockbuster. Also, there is an overabundance of comic relief, in that it seems half the characters function as such, making for unnecessary distractions at times when the movie really doesn’t need them (and while Alan Tudyk technically falls in this category, he gets a pass because he’s Alan Tudyk).
But for all the fundamental things wrong with the film, it’s still largely entertaining and (amazingly enough) watchable. Michael Bay seems to have finally listened to his detractors, because there are several times when he holds on shots for several (!) seconds, making for a movie that isn’t a totally incoherent mess (what a concept). Couple that with zero excessively grating performances and a plot that only seems complicated, but not in any ways that matter, and what we are left with is a movie about giant robots fighting that is actually fun. Why was that ever an issue, again?
Oh yeah, and nobody gets humped by anything (kudos?).
Posted under Kyle's Adventures in Pop Culture
This post was written by Kyle on July 5, 2011