A film review by Craig J. Koban July 6, 2011
TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
2011, PG-13, 154 mins.
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
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:
Yo, S-Spiel, how goes it?
I hate it when you call me that, Mike.
Oh, come on, after all the money I made you with my last two
films of wanton and perverted excess, seriously?
Okay, good point.
Listen, we gotsta make another one of these.
We just gotsta!
We just gotsta!
Really? Have we not
said everything we needed to say about this film universe already?
What about other artistic waters?
Artistic waters! Ha! You slay me, S-Spiel. When
have I ever been about artistic integrity and sincerity?
Good point. Okay,
I’m an open-minded chap, what’s your pitch?
Do we a workable script this time?
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.
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.
Do you think any of my mindless, zombified fans will notice that?
Good Point. Go on.
Okay, I want the film to start in the 1960’s with the first
manned Moon landing, and from there….
Huh? I don’t follow.
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.
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
It’s on the dark side of...ahem…Dark of the Moon…and
the astronauts will investigate it during a transmission blackout.
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…
Nimoy’s good, but why would an alien robot...need a beard?
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.
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.
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?
Whoops, sorry. Patrick
Dempsey. He plays a
conspirator who, in exchange for his life, will help the Decepticons to
take over the world.
puzzling, but…go on.
Now, Shia LaBeouf will be back playing Sam Witwicky and will help
the Autobots again.
Okay…but you know…we had to let Megan Fox go…she did in fact
call you a Hitler-esque director.
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.
A Victoria Secrets Underwear model. Ummm...I get excited just
thinkin' about it.
Uh…why not an actual...trained actress this time that
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.
Gee…I dunno…that sounds kind of…
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?
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
Ya know Mike…maybe we need to go in a more mature
Oh…oh…remember the concept car Transformers from the last film?
They looked like apes, had big gold buckteeth, and talked black.
Yes…unfortunately…please tell me they're history, ‘cause
that offended people.
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.
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.
This sounds kind of…racist and…
Oh, it gets better. I
am also gonna chuck in some gay content too.
Yeah, that funny Asian dude from THE
Right! Ken Wong.
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.
This sounds like a really bad ide…
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
And we'll have John Malkovich in it as Shia's boss. He'll be more metrosexual, though.
Wait. McDormand will be a lesbian Intelligence Officer?
Wait. McDormand will be a lesbian Intelligence Officer?
Maybe. You'll have to make up your mind. You know…she’ll wear a pantsuit and act like a
the way through.
This is sounding more offensive by the minute, and the…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Okay…now we are finally getting to something…this sounds
promising. Action and
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.
How about some clarity in the action, Mike?
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….
I want this whole sequence – an hour long, destroying all of
Chicago…to feel and look like 9/11!
Wait a sec…you can’t do that…it could offend a lot of…
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.
Mike…listen to reason…this is not a good …
And I’m gonna have it all done in 3D!
Just imagine what it could have been like if 9/11 was televised in
Spielberg: Mike…you’ve gone completely off the deep end…
Guess what’s also happening during all of this carnage?
I dunno. What?
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.
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
Stevie…do you think any of my peeps understand science?
Hmmm…good point, but I really think…
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.
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?
Man…I could not have summarized it more beautifully, Stevie. No
wonder your a multiple Oscar winner. I wish I had one.
Mike. I don’t think
I can be your wingman on this project.
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
One last thing: Shia
is probably not gonna be in the fourth one.
one!? You got a forth one planned
why would Shia leave?
Listen…we got rid of Fox because she called me Hitler.
Shia did, after all, publicly say that you dropped the ball on INDIANA
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.
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.
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN (2009) zero stars
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (2014) 1/2