A film review by Craig J. Koban July 6, 2011



2011, PG-13, 154 mins.


Sam Witwicky: Shia LaBeouf / Lennox Team 'Baby Face': Markiss McFadden / Carly: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley / Epps Team 'Marc L': Kenneth Sheard / Lennox: Josh Duhamel / Simmons: John Turturro / Epps: Tyrese Gibson / Dylan: Patrick Dempsey / Mearing: Frances McDormand / Bruce Brazos: John Malkovich / Ron Witwicky: Kevin Dunn / Judy Witwicky: Julie White / Dutch: Alan Tudyk / Jerry Wang: Ken Jeong / General Morshower: Glenn Morshower

Directed by Michael Bay / Screenplay by Ehren Kruger


Being a film critic is a simultaneously enjoyable and loathsome undertaking.  I love to invest my energies in lauding a film that deserves to be cherished, but conversely there are films so soul-sucking, so intellectually, artistically, and emotionally vacant, and so utterly repellent for the ways they pronounce their director’s borderline masturbatory excess that I just want to call it quits.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, the third and - God help us all – hopefully the last of the TRANSFORMERS Trilogy is just one of those types of efforts that pummels one into loathsome submission.  Leaving the theatre after the screening I did not know whether I felt relief or if I should hit the floor, assume the fetal position, and weep.  Director Michael Bay has indicated to the press that this entry is meant to be an apology of sorts for TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN.  If this is his idea of a heartfelt apology, all I can say is this: Bay is either mind-fucking us or is so self-absorbed and indulgent as a filmmaker that he has no objective foresight to acknowledge good from bad.   

I could go on, but instead of writing about my thoughts on the film ad nauseam, I have the next best thing.  Imagine, if you will, what a conversation between Bay and Executive Producer Steven Spielberg would have been like in pitching ideas about this sequel.  It must have sounded something like…this:

Bay:  Yo, S-Spiel, how goes it? 

Spielberg:  I hate it when you call me that, Mike. 

Bay:  Oh, come on, after all the money I made you with my last two TRANNIE films of wanton and perverted excess, seriously? 

Spielberg:  Okay, good point. 

Bay:  Listen, we gotsta make another one of these.  We just gotsta!

Spielberg:  Really?  Have we not said everything we needed to say about this film universe already?  What about other artistic waters? 

Bay:  Artistic waters!  Ha!  You slay me, S-Spiel.  When have I ever been about artistic integrity and sincerity? 

Spielberg:  Good point.  Okay, I’m an open-minded chap, what’s your pitch?  Do we a workable script this time? 

Bay:  Workable script?  Ha!  You’re hilarious, S-Spiel.  A real loon.  Anyhoo’, here’s the deal: TRANSFORMERS 3 is gonna be called DARK OF THE MOON. 

Spielberg:  DARK OF THE MOON?  That sounds grammatically...off.  Don’t you mean DARK SIDE OF THE MOON or THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON?  DARK OF THE MOON sounds like you’ve omitted words. 

Bay:  Do you think any of my mindless, zombified fans will notice that? 

Spielberg:  Good Point.  Go on. 

Bay:  Okay, I want the film to start in the 1960’s with the first manned Moon landing, and from there…. 

Spielberg:  The…Moon landing?  Huh?  I don’t follow. 

Bay:  Yeah, that Moon landing.  The one with the Buzz-saw guy that went there.  So, the real NASA Moon landing is actually a secret mission to search a crashed Autobot vessel.  I mean, this vessel is gigantic...really, really big. 

Spielberg:  Uh, how could a vessel as large as you say not have been uncovered before?  Also, wouldn’t it be kind of, I dunno, hard to hide from the TV coverage of the Moon landing? 

Bay:  It’s on the dark side of...ahem…Dark of the Moon…and the astronauts will investigate it during a transmission blackout. 

Spielberg:  Uh…okay. 

Bay:  Great.  So this ship actually was piloted by Sentinel Prime, the grandfather of the Autobots.  He’ll have a beard and be voiced by Leonard Nimoy, and… 

Spielberg:  Nimoy’s good, but why would an alien robot...need a beard? 

Bay:  To tell viewers that he’s old...hello!  Anyhoo’, Sentinel Prime basically is in a coma when the astronauts find him and what they don’t know is that the ship has "The Pillars", which could have won the war back on Cybertron. 

Spielberg:  Ummmkay…go on. 

Bay:  The Pillars have the power of teleportation…I’ll get back to that later.  Sentinel is brought back to Earth and is resurrected by Optimus Prime.  He reveals that he has the Pillars that could help or destroy humanity.  Meanwhile, a crippled Megatron is conspiring with some humans to destroy the world. 

Spielberg:  With you so far until the part about humans conspiring versus their own kind.  I don’t get it?  Who would do something like that? 

Bay:  Dr. McDreamy. 

Spielberg:  Who? 

Bay:  Whoops, sorry.  Patrick Dempsey.  He plays a conspirator who, in exchange for his life, will help the Decepticons to take over the world. 

Spielberg.  Hmmm…okay.  Uh...seems puzzling, but…go on. 

Bay:  Now, Shia LaBeouf will be back playing Sam Witwicky and will help the Autobots again. 

Spielberg:  Okay…but you know…we had to let Megan Fox go…she did in fact call you a Hitler-esque director. 

Bay:  Yeah…I know.  Man, my peeps loved it when I objectified her for hours on end in the last two films.  But don’t worry…I got just the replacement for her. 

Spielberg:  Who? 

Bay:  A Victoria Secrets Underwear model.  Ummm...I get excited just thinkin' about it.

Spielberg:  Uh…why not an actual...trained actress this time that can…I dunno…act? 

Bay:  Ha! Ha!  S-Spiel, there you go again.  If I wanted an actress I would have got one, but since all of the women in my films are pure sex objects of adolescent-salivating desire, why not get a nice piece of tail instead?  I dunno...I vote for the tail over an "actor" any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  

Spielberg:  Gee…I dunno…that sounds kind of… 

Bay:  Hey…hey…remember how I introduced Megan Fox in the first two films?  First time she was bent over a car in a mini-skirt and the second one she was bent over a bike wearing short-shorts?  I got the next best thing: I’m gonna introduce Sam’s new girlfriend – played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – by having her walk up the stairs wearing nothing but panties and a shirt and have the camera literally fixated right up her ass as she's walking. 

Spielberg:  That…sounds…kind of tawdry.  Isn't this supposed to be a family film?

Bay:  Stevie, I’m all about shameless excess and objectifying women.  And plus…my God, this chick is piping hot.  I am also gonna have tons of other shots of her rack and ass too.  Plus, when the Autobot vs. Decepticon war happens, the camera will fixate on her too.  It'll be like a Revlon Ad placed right in the middle of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, so it will be real arty in terms of its message and nice to look at as well.  She will also have to wear minimal clothing or tight clothing…as much as possible. 

Spielberg:  Ya know Mike…maybe we need to go in a more mature direction, like… 

Bay:  Oh…oh…remember the concept car Transformers from the last film?  They looked like apes, had big gold buckteeth, and talked black. 

Spielberg:  Yes…unfortunately…please tell me they're history, ‘cause that offended people. 

Bay:  Ya know...I hated to remove them.  Man, robots acting like black guys are so funny.  I love it when black guys talk black.  I’ll still have my black human characters talk black, but this time we’re gonna have an Irish and a Scottish pair of robots. 

Spielberg:  I don’t like the sound of this one bit, and besides… 

Bay:  No, no…it’ll be fantastic.  One will be red with a huge beer belly, a beard, and a thick Scottish accent.  He’ll sound drunk.  I think drunken Scottish people are a riot, but only when they're pissed.  Maybe these robots can sound pissed.

Spielberg:  This sounds kind of…racist and… 

Bay:  Oh, it gets better.  I am also gonna chuck in some gay content too. 

Spielberg:  What? 

Bay:  Yeah, that funny Asian dude from THE HANGOVER…whatshisname? 

Spielberg: Ken Jeong. 

Bay:  Right!  Ken Wong.   

Spielberg:  That’s Jeong. 

Bay:  Jeong…Wong…whatever.  Anyhoo', he’ll be one of Sam's co-workers and conspiracy nut jobs that'll play a scene in the film where he accosts Sam in a bathroom, acts like he’s gonna rape him, mentions sexual words to him, and then their boss finds them in there thinking that he’s just went down on Sam.  It’ll be a riot. 

Spielberg:  This sounds like a really bad ide… 

Bay:  It gets waaaaaay better.  We’ll have the pilot from FIREFLY as a German cyber dude…he might sound a bit gay…and then we’ll have Francis McDormand as an Intelligence Director…she might be a lesbian.  And we'll have John Malkovich in it as Shia's boss.  He'll be more metrosexual, though.

Spielberg:  Huh?  Wait.  McDormand will be a lesbian Intelligence Officer?

Bay:  Maybe.  You'll have to make up your mind.  You know…she’ll wear a pantsuit and act like a b-i-t-c-h all the way through. 

Spielberg:  This is sounding more offensive by the minute, and the… 

Bay:  Oh…did I tell you that I want Shia to scream even more methodically and loudly this time around.  I literally want him to blare out every line of dialogue as often as possible.  I just want this kid to be as excruciatingly annoying as any normal person can stand.  I just want people to hate this kid.

Spielberg:  Jesus…no…I don’t think… 

Bay:  We are also gonna have shout outs to Chernobyl, Trump Tower, and Bill O’Reilly.  But not in that order.

Spielberg:  What?! 

Bay:  And I want to bring back Sam’s parents and make them even more irritable.  Annoying parents that meddle in their kids’ lives are a riot. 

Spielberg:  This…I just…really? 

Bay:  I got the best for last, S-Spiel.  I want to destroy Chicago in the final hour.  It will be an all out war between good and bad robots. 

Spielberg:  Okay…now we are finally getting to something…this sounds promising.  Action and adventure. 

Bay:  Yeah.  Ain’t it cool?  I want it to feel like it’s going on, like...forever.  Plus…I want to make it nearly incomprehensible who’s fighting who.  I just want it to be an all-out assault on the senses showing these robots battle it out, destroying everything in their paths. 

Spielberg:  How about some clarity in the action, Mike? 

Bay:  Ha! Ha! Ha!  There you go again, Stevie.  My peeps don’t care about clarity.  They want as much shit thrown on the screen as possible without any semblance of order.  Plus…this is really the best part…. 

Spielberg:  What? 

Bay:  I want this whole sequence – an hour long, destroying all of Chicago…to feel and look like 9/11! 

Spielberg:  Wait a sec…you can’t do that…it could offend a lot of… 

Bay:  Yeah.  I want buildings crumbling, falling over, robot ships crashing into towers…I want people to think of 9/11 during this whole sequence.  It’ll be wicked.  Plus it'll make 'em think too. 

Spielberg:  Mike…listen to reason…this is not a good … 

Bay:  And I’m gonna have it all done in 3D!  Just imagine what it could have been like if 9/11 was televised in 3D! 

Spielberg:  Mike…you’ve gone completely off the deep end… 

Bay:  Guess what’s also happening during all of this carnage? 

Spielberg:  I dunno.  What? 

Bay:  The Pillars have been set up in the middle of the city and the ultimate plan of the bad robots is set in motion: They are going to teleport Cybertron into Earth’s orbit and atmosphere in order to rebuild what’s left of Earth and enslave humanity in the process. 

Spielberg.  Mike…Mike…listen to some common sense.  Think about it, man.  If a planet the size of Cybertron was instantly placed within Earth’s atmosphere gravitational forces would collide the two celestial bodies and destroy everything…humans and robots alike.  I mean, even before they collided gravitational forces would cause natural apocalyptic events that would end all life within minutes.  Six billion humans would die.  There would no slave labor force…no planet…and no Transformers left period. I mean...c'mon!!

Bay:  Stevie…do you think any of my peeps understand science?     

Spielberg:  Hmmm…good point, but I really think… 

Bay:  And…all of this for the bargain bin budget price of $200 million.  Oh…I also want to make it all nearly 3 hours long. 

Spielberg:  Okay…I need to calm down and recap the salient points of your pitch:  You want me to commit my good name to this project – a quarter of a billion dollar budgeted threequel that will be almost three hours long, shot in 3D and in your queasy cam, seizure inducing style, and have a story that makes no sense, cheerfully disregards the canon of the first films, has no Megan Fox but a scantily clad Victoria Secret model to replace her, gay jokes and potentially offensive ethnic stereotypes aplenty, and have Chicago decimated in the final hour all while visually evoking one of the single greatest tragedies of this Century?   And in 3D?

Bay:  Man…I could not have summarized it more beautifully, Stevie. No wonder your a multiple Oscar winner.  I wish I had one.

Spielberg:  Mike.  I don’t think I can be your wingman on this project. 

Bay:  S-Spiel: You’ll make shitloads of money because, ultimately, no matter how good or bad it is, it will take in $100 mil opening weekend for sure. 

Spielberg:  Hmmm…good point. 

Bay:  One last thing:  Shia is probably not gonna be in the fourth one. 

Spielberg:  Wait…what?  Fourth one!? You got a forth one planned after...after...this!?.  And why would Shia leave? 

Bay:  Listen…we got rid of Fox because she called me Hitler.  Shia did, after all, publicly say that you dropped the ball on INDIANA JONES IV I mean, I love directing him screaming, running, and screaming some more...and he's really great at bellowing his lines, but he's a bit of a punk for bad-mouthin' ya.

Spielberg:  Good point.  




Seriously.  That must have been what the conversation was like, even though I have no proof whatsoever that what you just read was actually said between the pair.  

BTW - Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called TRANSFORMERS 3 the cinematic equivalent of a street mugging.  I guess, in turn, that the entire TRANSFORMERS Trilogy is like one nearly nine-hour curb stomp.


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