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MOVIE REVIEW: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

REVIEW SUMMARY: Michael Bay’s explosive Summer Blockbuster return to the world of Autobots and Decepticons.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A lost Cybertronian spaceship is discovered on the Moon. Will the Autobots recover the ship’s secrets before the Decepticons and end the war once and for all?


From 1984-1987, I was a Transformers fangirl. It was one of several afternoon cartoons I loved coming home to watch. I wrote fanfiction (bad – and hopefully completely destroyed – fanfiction) based on that incarnation of Transformers. I was – and still am – an Optimus Prime fangirl. I went to the 1986 Transformers: The Movie. I have the VHS version in the original shrinkwrap.

Then life happened. I found other fandoms. I lost track of the various incarnations of Transformers. Then came Michael Bay. I wanted to see the first two movies. But I let reviews and other things get in the way. I never saw the first two. But when the previews began for Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I had to see it. Mixing Transformers with Moon Landing…had to see it. Hearing Peter Cullen reprising the Optimus Voice…had to see it. I avoided most of the reviews – wanting no preconceptions going in, which was difficult.

Is Transformers: Dark of the Moon great theater? Heck no. Is it historically accurate? Heck no. Does it have plot holes you could drive Optimus Prime through with the combat deck trailer? Absolutely. It’s a Transformers movie. I didn’t go expecting a Oscar Award winning movie. I expected a Michael Bay Summer Blockbuster. That’s what I got. Lots of explosions. Some story. Lots of effects. Everything a Summer Blockbuster is supposed to be.

But for those going in expecting some kind of Shakespeare? There was some of that too. Transformers: Dark of the Moon had elements of a good Shakespearean tragedy. It had epic Good vs. Evil – Autobots vs. Decepticons. There was a long-lost father/savior figure in Sentinel Prime. Sam Witwicky was the hero looking for his place in the world. Dylan Gould was the Evil Human working with Deceptions. It had betrayal -Sentinel Prime thinking he was doing what was best by turning Cybertron over to Decepticons. It had goofy comic relief in the supporting characters – both with Brains and Wheelie and Seymour Simmons. And frankly, Shia LaBeouf can pull some comedy off on his own.

What didn’t I expect? I didn’t expect Leonard Nimoy to voice Sentinel Prime – and a line they had to have added after Nimoy was cast. I couldn’t have been the only one in the audience geeking out over “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Though it seemed like it at the time.

What wasn’t necessary? The Witwicky parents. I understand the mother character has been inappropriate during the entire franchise, but I didn’t quite get why they were there – except it was expected. John Malkovich was cool, but seemed to be brought in for a single plot point then shoehorned in later to have John Malkovich. What really wasn’t necessary? Racing flames on Optimus Prime. Seriously? When did that happen? What happened to solid red, white, and blue?

What I loved were the epic voices: Peter Cullen and Leonard Nimoy. These are brilliant voice castings. As I’ve said, there will only be one Optimus Prime in my mind, that’s Peter Cullen. I loved Wheelie and Brains as Autobot scene stealers – they came off as half Gremlin, half Muppet. Though my favorite human scene stealer was Alan Tudyk as Dutch, retired agent Seymour Simmons’ sidekick or “Kato” character – from the jacket made out of curtain, to “Action Hero Dutch” look – he stole his scenes. I wanted to see a whole lot more of him. Definitely wanted to know more about “Old Dutch” – and was disappointed he and Simmons weren’t in the other movies.

Overall, it was 2.5 hours of explosion-y, Summer Blockbuster fun. And this Teenage Transformer Fangirl was very pleased when she came out of the show. I didn’t go in looking for problems. I went in looking to escape the world. I did that.

5 Comments on MOVIE REVIEW: Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

  1. Nick Mamatas // July 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm //





  2. Nicky Drayden // July 7, 2011 at 10:00 pm //

    Well, if you put a negative sign before that…

  3. Aaron Caskey // July 8, 2011 at 11:33 am //

    This review is obviously an Epic Troll:


    “But for those going in expecting some kind of Shakespeare? There was some of that too.

  4. I agree with this review.  It was a comic book and TV cartoon.  If you went into the theater expecting The Shawshank Redemption, then why are you watching a Transformers movie? Of course, material based on comic books and cartoons could have attempted to rise to Shakespearean theater and spent two-and-a-half hours teaching us about the human condition.  But it didn’t have to, to deliver on the promise.

    Not every form of entertainment should be a revisit to College Lit 101.  Sometimes staring slack-jawed at the pretty booms! is okay.  If it tried only to entertain you, that is noble enough.

  5. I had the same approach.  I went to see a summer blockbuster with intense visuals and a weak plot and that’s what I got.  The parents’ goofy dialogue for comic relief is just one of the many things in that movie that are incorporated purely to please the masses.  Summer blockbusters are all about appealing to the widest audience you can, right?  I can’t fault anyone for that. 

    One thing that I keep experiencing with 3D movies is that the film appears dim, seems like the 3D glasses are filtering some of the light.

    I went for 10^15 polygons in crisp high-speed motion and I got it.

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