Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

(M) Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Josh Duhamel, Frances McDormand

Critics can say what they like about Michael Bay films, there is one thing he knows how to do well: entertain his core demographic.

At a packed session this reviewer attended, the cinema was full of 15-18 year old blokes and their girlfriends.

One doesn’t go to a film like Transformers expecting a complex story and Academy Award winning acting — it’s for the robot smackdown action.

Case in point is Dark of the Moon’s Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 38% and audience review rating of 90%. Dark of the Moon is officially cinema’s guiltiest pleasure this year.

Like X-Men First Class, the film cleverly entwines its story with recent human history, inferring the moon landing wasn’t to put the first man on the moon but to find out what had crash-landed on its dark side.

3D has definitely come of age with this film — it is a fully immersive experience and sets a benchmark for the format.

This kick-starts the film with a government cover-up and a Transformers back-story.

After the first two films, the Autobots, with leader Optimus Prime, are now part of a government program to protect and serve the planet. On a mission to the moon to recover some Cybertron artefacts they discover a dormant Sentinel Prime — barely functioning and protecting five energy columns that have the ability to enable teleportation.

From then on, it’s strap your belts on for the best 3D thrill-ride cinema will deliver this year as Autobots and Deceptacons battle it out for no less than the future of the human race.

3D has definitely come of age with this film — it is a fully immersive experience and sets a benchmark for the format.

Fully shot in 3D and not hampered by some of the tracking problems of the former benchmark — Avatar — the film leaps off the screen.

Bay seems even to have overcome the slight muddiness of the format — frames jump from the screen with vibrancy and white-knuckle action.

The film’s adrenaline-fuelled last hour doesn’t let up.

There’s always niggles with these films. Bay is nothing if not a little exploitative when it comes to showcasing Rosie Huntington-Whitely, a Victoria’s Secret model and replacement for Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf’s love interest. The camera lasciviously ogles Whitely from the opening frames as it follows her up a set of stairs.

Critics have savaged Whitely for her (lack of) acting talent but she has too little to do to warrant the reproach.

LaBeouf reprises the role of Sam Witwicky. Early scenes with him trying to get a job have the sort of humour that plays to the audience well. In one scene he suggests that having saved the world twice he deserves a better job than mailroom clerk. And his scenes with Bumblebee — the transforming Chevy Camaro that has to be the coolest car ever — are lots of fun to watch.

Frances McDormand and John Turturo are the film’s secret weapon, bringing sly humour and gravitas.

This is undoubtedly check-your-brain-at-the-door entertainment. Its M rating is justified and, with a $400 million global opening weekend, audiences are assured this isn’t the last time we’ll be in the company of the robots in disguise.

Adrian Drayton

 

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