TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
Director: Michael Bay
Screenwriter: Ehren Kruger
Peter Cullen (voice)
Hugo Weaving (voice)
Runtime: 154 mins.
Australian release date: 29 June 2011
Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, is the third part of The Transformers’ franchise and arguably the best of the three. From the moment the Paramount logo stars leap off the screen before the opening credits, you know you are in for a wild 3D ride that will have you transformed (if you’ll pardon the pun…) for the next 154 minutes.
This is, after all, a world where alien robots are vying for power. They come from the planet Cybertron and are divided into two factions - the heroic Autobots led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen - voice) and the evil Decepticons led by Megatron (Hugo Weaving - voice). They front warrior armies who are able to shrink in to vehicles and then expand into terrifying aliens, filling the screen with an incredible presence. Fittingly, they seem to have been named by teenage rev-heads, with names like Ironhide, Ratchet, Sideswipe and Wheelie, and new boys on the block The Wreckers and Leadfoot for the Autobots and Shockwave, the Dreads and Crankcase included in the Decepticon ranks.
Confused yet? I was for a moment but reined in my cynicism as I’d read that Bay had decided to make the third part of his sci-fi epic into a more character-driven tale using, on this occasion, a real script! This was after Shia LaBeouf (who plays Sam Witwicky, the hero who saved the planet, twice, in the first two instalments), had revealed in an interview that the second film was partly improvised. The screenwriter, Ehren Kruger, has really lifted his game with this one, after winning the Razzie Award in 2010 for Worst Screenplay for Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. Maybe his co-writers were to blame for that because this latest effort is his alone and, while whacky, it works. You don’t come away from this epic merely shell-shocked from the sound levels and numbed by its nothingness - it’s a great yarn, too.
Bay goes back to the core mythology of the Autobots and Decepticons history. In fact, he makes a rather bizarre case for man landing on the Moon and discovering a hidden Cybertronian spacecraft, which contained a new technology capable of saving the Autobot’s planet, and had now been lost to the Decepticons in their great civil war. This gave the latter reason enough to wipe out all witnesses to the fact, perhaps initiating President Kennedy’s assassination, for he was one of the thirty-five who knew about the alien craft’s existence. Who would have imagined that?
The cast of humans includes the controversial replacement of Megan Fox with the Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Sam’s girlfriend, who manages to outrun the Decepticon army in killer heels. There are great performances by John Malkovich (Bruce Brazos, Sam’s boss), John Turturro (now ex-agent Simmons, fired because his conspiracy theories got out of hand) and Frances McDormand (Mearing, an all-powerful Intelligence Bureau chief), to name a few.
The effects and CGI are pretty staggering (more than 4,000 people were involved in the crafting of this film) and include intense sequences of sci-fi violence, mayhem and destruction. The city of Chicago takes a real pounding in the final scenes. The music is as full-on as the action, using an explosive soundtrack that is an event in itself. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is a must-see for sci-fi fans and a real eye-opener for anyone who has not experienced 3D before and, although cliché-ridden, it does provide some laughs. It is enough to send you home ‘pumped,’ as one member of the preview audience was heard to say.