Published Jun 28, 2011One of the positive comments that I overheard walking out of Transformers: Dark of the Moon was, "Well, at least I could tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys in this one." And it's true: even though Michael Bay still has the attention span and focus of a coked-out, pre-pubescent schizophrenic, the actual transformations and battle sequences are somewhat more coherent, with fewer edits, which is a plus, since the final half-hour carnage sequence actually has some sheer visceral kick to it.
Unfortunately, this is the only positive that can be said for a movie that, on the whole, is almost entirely expository and incoherent, jumping back and forth between storylines that serve no purpose, leaving gaping holes in a plot that only require 40 minutes of film, rather than the bloated, boring two-and-a-half hours allotted.
Seemingly, the reason for this lack of cohesion is that screenwriter Ehren Kruger actually tries to inject some subtext into the film by mirroring a global Decepticon takeover with the assimilative corporate lifestyle. The film opens with Sam (Shia LeBeouf) looking for a job, when not boning new, vapid, blonde girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), who, incidentally, is introduced via a minute-long close-up of her ass while walking up a flight of stairs in skimpy panties.
Meanwhile, there's a bunch of retellings of history, suggesting that the first manned mission to the moon was actually an investigation of a Cybertronian spacecraft, which leads to a present day race between the Autobots and Decepticons to find a spare part with a secret purpose. Here's a hint: deception is involved.
Amidst this, John Malkovich pops up as LaBeouf's new boss, cracking jokes about a presumed washroom sexual encounter with a context-free Ken Jeong, along with John Turturro, who tries to sell a new book, while his kung-fu fighting homosexual assistant, Dutch (Alan Tudyk), works with Josh Duhamel on computer stuff. None of these storylines serve any real purpose in regards to the central conflict, which is articulated in the simplest manner possible by Optimus Prime: "Everyone deserves freedom."
Presumably these many tangents and incidental sequences, which amount to little more than a crude joke here and there, have something to do with the bigger entrepreneurial vision on the page. But Bay's interpretation, as always, is essentially, "Whoa, that Victoria Secret chick has nice breasts" and "Holy crap, look at that car!" Literally, there will be a battle sequence in full force and when Bay isn't using inexplicable slow motion shots for the most random images, he'll cut to the hot chick for no reason other than "too much destruction, not enough hot chick." And she'll just stand there with a vacant expression while the wind blows through her hair.
And, really, it's fine that Bay's vision has no actual trajectory or focus and that you can literally see the whimsies of someone with A.D.D thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." at every turn, even if it doesn't serve, or fit, the story at all. But does it have to take so long to get to the protracted, borderline pornographic final blow-out. There is literally two hours of endless exposition and yammering that don't develop characters or story before we get to see Chicago get decimated. We do, however, get to see Frances McDormand get sassy, stating, "Don't call me ma'am."
If you feel like being patronized for three hours and if you're amused by people acting zany just because, then perhaps Transformers 3 is the film for you. Just be warned that it's basically the equivalent of shoving a Q-tip in your ear too far. (Paramount)