#1  
Old 06-30-2011, 07:09 PM
Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-ric...rk-of-the-moon



http://www.examiner.com/movie-in-ric...rk-of-the-moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Merely two years ago, Michael Bay released the disastrous sequel to his original Transformers film. The film had a mixture of problems including the plot, characters, visual effects, editing, and the obsessive length. Now he brings us the third part of the trilogy, and having seemingly learned nothing from the last film, allows just about all of the same mistakes to be made yet again.

This third entry opens with a brief explanation from Optimus Prime (Voice of Peter Cullen) explaining how there had been a war between the Autobots (fighters for freedom) and the Decepticons (fighters for tyranny). In a last chance effort to win the war, the Autobots launched a secret weapon aboard a ship, but this ship never makes it to its destination and instead ends up crashing on Earth’s moon in 1961. This was supposedly the event that triggered the space race as both the United States and the Soviet Union knew that an alien ship crashed there.

In present day, we find Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) dating Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) while attempting to find a job. He eventually lands one in the mailroom of a corporation run by Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich). It is here where he is confronted by a fellow employee, Jerry Wang (Ken Jeong), who knows of Sam’s involvement in the alien incidents. Not long after, Sam is attacked by a Decepticon, causing him to seek out the help of Optimus, who has recently found out about the crashed ship on the moon. Optimus and his crew recover the ship’s cargo, the consequences of which turn out to be an all-out battle with the Decepticons for control of Earth.

Again we have a film that has a lot of events, but very little in the way of plot. The plot in this case is just an excuse to let the Autobots and Decepticons brawl for an extended amount of time while shooting and blowing things up in the process. This leads to some very tiresome action sequences culminating in approximately the last 45 minutes of the film where we once again have a seemingly endless and badly edited sequence of fighting robots.

In typical Bay fashion, his belief being that people only have an attention span of about half a second, we get scenes of incomprehensible action where it becomes hard to tell what’s going on, which made it rather hard to care after a minute or two. It even got to the point where it became hard to stay awake as when you’re spending about 45 minutes not caring about the situation, it becomes very tedious (though there was a bit of well-done set design for a sequence involving the destruction of an office building being torn apart through the middle).

Also making it really hard to care were the flat characters and the complete lack of character development. Any of these characters could be replaced with any other character and you could still make the same film, and yes, that includes the robots, though from some of the acting, it became hard to tell the difference.

Speaking of the acting, it would be interesting to learn how talented actors like John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, John Turturro, Alan Tudyk, and Leonard Nimoy got mixed up in a project like this where they are seriously underutilized. LaBeouf is not particularly bad here, but his characterization does become one bland note pretty quickly. If the character had been allowed to develop a bit, perhaps we would have gotten to see a different side of the character for once.

With all of these problems though, “Dark of the Moon” does come off a little better than its predecessor, mainly because it does a slightly better job with its set up than the previous film had done. It’s an interesting notion that the entire space race was in response to an alien spaceship crashing on the moon, it’s just unfortunate that the writer, Ehren Kruger, doesn’t really do anything with it beyond providing the excuse for the overly-long final action sequence.

That actually brings us to another point: the film is far too long. As mentioned, earlier, one of the major issues with the second film was its obsessive length, so what does Bay do? He decides to make the third film even longer. At two and a half hours, the paper thin plot is not nearly enough to sustain the film for such a bloated length. As with the last film, there was a large amount of superfluous footage that could have been cut out to bring this down to an acceptable length.

Having to stare at the bland CGI for this long only increases the tedium. The design of the robots is not really an issue, it’s mainly the fact that they never really feel like they’re there, as if most of the film is a bad cartoon. This lead to several scenes where you could just picture the actors yelling at or trying to interact with a green screen, which only served to take me further out of the film.

Overall, while “Dark of the Moon” may be a slight improvement over the second film, that’s not saying very much as it pretty much has the exact same issues. During the final battle, I was even reminded of another terrible film from earlier this year with similar problems, “Battle: Los Angeles,” and that’s certainly not a good thing. At this point, it looks likely that Bay’s latest effort will be joining it on the worst of the year list. Perhaps now Bay will finally put his toys away and start trying to make something good again. 1.5/4 stars.
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  #2  
Old 06-30-2011, 08:35 PM
Once again, you do not surprise me. Judging every film the same old way. To me, you brand of movie reviewing is 25 years too old. Why not join us in the 21st century and understand what the term eye candy is?

While I have no doubt you saw this movie, I have to wonder if you did not walk in and out to go to the bathroom.

Maybe all those great actors wanted to be part of a fun film and the movie is called Transformers. With a title like that, how big a role did you think they should get?

Bland CGI???? That is just hitting below the belt. ILM did an awesome job. Too bad you are too bland to notice and give credit where credit is due.


"Also making it really hard to care were the flat characters and the complete lack of character development" You make me laugh. What did you think you were going to see? Roots? You are not supposed to care. Just watch all the fighting and explosions and enjoy.

I don't care how I come off. My opinion is that you judge all movies on the same standard and that is wrong.
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  #3  
Old 06-30-2011, 09:31 PM
I see every film with an open mind and review accordingly. If a movie requires that I turn my brain off and try to enjoy myself, sometimes that works, other times it doesn't. Here it doesn't.

The problem with your argument is that it's basically making excuses for a terrible movie. I've had people tell me they've tried to enjoy bad movies "for what they were," but you can try and make that argument for any awful film.

Bay basically makes these movies to pander to people who don't give a shit about substance, and that's fine, but it's not going to make a good movie because it's dull, though I think this is a major point we're disagreeing on. If you find stuff like explosions and fighting entertaining with there only being the thinnest of reasons for there to be any, plus a myriad of other issues, that's fine. Most people will say you don't have a whole movie there. For this one, the consensus was pretty clear. If you're just judging by explosions, Battle: LA could be considered good, despite being awful. If I had known the movie was going to have so much superfluous material, I probably would have taken a bathroom break.

I do give credit where credit is due, but only where it's due. The CGI here is the same old bland transforming robots we've seen for three movies now, and I actually liked the first film, but now it's been done to death with the excessive length of these last two.

To sum up, I don't make excuses for movies, and shouldn't have to. There is no "same standard" since every movie is judged on just how good it is. You certainly don't have to agree with doing it that way, just like I don't agree with making excuses for movies like this.
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  #4  
Old 07-01-2011, 09:47 AM
WHat did you think of Jurassic Park?
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  #5  
Old 07-01-2011, 10:13 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal2001 View Post
I see every film with an open mind and review accordingly. If a movie requires that I turn my brain off and try to enjoy myself, sometimes that works, other times it doesn't. Here it doesn't.
But you judge them all the same. You can't grade or judge Transformers the same way as Inception.


Quote:
The problem with your argument is that it's basically making excuses for a terrible movie. I've had people tell me they've tried to enjoy bad movies "for what they were," but you can try and make that argument for any awful film.
No, I do not agree with you. What you call a terrible movie, I call a different kind of movie. You should not judge a drama the same as a comedy or action movie. Then each category is has different levels. That is how I see it anyway. Tranformers and Battle LA for that matter, fall under Action > Eye Candy.

Quote:
Bay basically makes these movies to pander to people who don't give a shit about substance, and that's fine, but it's not going to make a good movie because it's dull, though I think this is a major point we're disagreeing on. If you find stuff like explosions and fighting entertaining with there only being the thinnest of reasons for there to be any, plus a myriad of other issues, that's fine. Most people will say you don't have a whole movie there. For this one, the consensus was pretty clear. If you're just judging by explosions, Battle: LA could be considered good, despite being awful. If I had known the movie was going to have so much superfluous material, I probably would have taken a bathroom break.
Sometimes people just want to see eye candy. Sometimes I just want to laugh at dick and fart jokes. As a reveiwer, a professional reviewer if you will, isn't your job to tell the people what type of people they are getting and if it acheives that goal? My guess is you do not think this way and maybe that is why people tend not to give two shits about what you have to say. Maybe that is why movies you hate draw in millions upon millions of people. Why not be different and tell people that TF3 is an eye candy action movie and if that is what you are into it.......... and your opinion of the movie. It is my belief people would respect that review a whole lot more and actually be able to make an informed decision of if they should go see it or not.

What you call the thinnest of reasons is the reason why million of people will go see this movie. That is why The Hangover 2 made $200 million. The Hangover 2 is not a good movie, but it is a funny movie. Base your review on a comedy and not one standard of what a movie should be. You are fighting with yourself. Most people love the Transformers movies (of those who see movies and not talking about old people who don't). Most people on this site don't, but most people do and that is why they make hundreds of millions of dollars.

For the record, Battle LA is no different from Jurassic Park. Survive. And EVERYONE loved JP. Battle LA is a great movie in showing how a military op goes. As a former military person, I really appreciated that. It was well done from the aspect. Not that you would know anything about it.

Quote:
I do give credit where credit is due, but only where it's due. The CGI here is the same old bland transforming robots we've seen for three movies now, and I actually liked the first film, but now it's been done to death with the excessive length of these last two.
What did you expect? Do you rip is Pixar for making Toy Story the same old way for three movies. Face it, you are picking on Bay and his movies. That huge fucking snake like transformer was pretty fucking cool and not in any of the other movies. I bet it took a team of people months to do that. Give some credit man. I agree with the length.

Quote:
To sum up, I don't make excuses for movies, and shouldn't have to. There is no "same standard" since every movie is judged on just how good it is. You certainly don't have to agree with doing it that way, just like I don't agree with making excuses for movies like this.
To sum up, I think you should change your style, because these movies are not going anywhere, but people like you are. How long will it be before editors figure out that no one gives two shits about your opinion of a movie and fire you and all like you? Seriously, what good are you if you pan movies that make hundreds of millions of dollars? Change your style man. You do have a same standard, because you are basing how good every movie is on what an Oscar movie is. You can't do that and make much sense. You are not making excuses, you are telling the people who read your shit what the movie is about and what to expect. Nothing more, because if they cared about your opinion, 75% of movies made would have never made a buck.

A thin plot...... it is a movie based on a toyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee (in my best Woody voice). It is not like it is based on a best selling and critically aclaimed book.


I re read what you and I wrote and do you realize how arrogant you come off? Get off your high horse and come back to the masses. I am calling you Frasier for now on. I come off like an ass at times too, but what you did is just slam millions of people who love to see movies and enjoy them. That is pretty arrogant. This is not about you, this is about your readers. You are not doing them a service. People who read your reveiw are people who might go see this movie. People who have no interest in it will not. Do you get that? So when someone reads what you wrote, there is a major disconnect. What you wrote is for people who will never see it and would only read only review to fill some sort of odd perversion

Last edited by Erroneous; 07-01-2011 at 10:24 AM..
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  #6  
Old 07-01-2011, 11:07 AM
Have you ever disliked a movie that made hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office, Erroneous?
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  #7  
Old 07-01-2011, 11:30 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erroneous View Post
Why not join us in the 21st century and understand what the term eye candy is?
Did you fap during the movie?

I actually don't mind eye candy... Malick gives me the type of eye candy I like.... Micheal Bay's eye candy does nothing for me.

I love action movies... Terminator is awesome... Die Hard is awesome.... Lethal Weapon is awesome... They're fun action flicks that have Arnie, Bruce and Mel in their primes. Transformers has Shia, a goofy looking blonde model, a really long running time and CGI. Micheal Bay can suck it. I prefer to call this series action porn. That's what it basically is.

I remember when we had action movies that had real action stars and directors that knew when enough was enough. Now it's just more more more more... 2 1/2 hours for an action movie with with a thin plot and shitty characters? Give me a break.

Even the latest Die Hard went into complete absurdity.

Last edited by rocknblues81; 07-01-2011 at 12:08 PM..
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  #8  
Old 07-01-2011, 01:10 PM
Well, I've already told you there's no "same standard," just because you keep saying otherwise is not going to make it come true.

I'm telling people exactly what they get with a movie like this (paper thin plot, bland CGI, overly-long actions sequences, etc.) and whether or not it works, which in this case, it didn't, BUT as I said, if you like that kind of thing, that's fine. If I were to say "If that's what you're into, you might like it" in every review, they'd sound extremely repetitive.

Your argument of people liking it because it made millions of dollars is also flawed. As I've told many other people, box office does not equal quality, because you're assuming that everyone who saw it liked it, which was certainly not true for Transformers. If everyone who hated it was allowed a refund, then I'm sure we'd see the true results.

No, I don't rip on Toy Story for using the same technique because Pixar uses an amazing CGI that looks great. I did give a little credit to the office building sequence because that was the only one that was a little impressive.

But anyway, these reviews aren't going anywhere, nor are the critics who write them, because we're doing exactly what we're supposed to be doing, which is telling what works and what doesn't for a movie. It sounds like you would try to have the vast majority of naysayers for this film get fired just because they disagree with you about not finding explosions cool and entertaining. I've nothing against Bay. I've actually enjoyed some of his films quite a bit (The Rock and The Island come to mind). It's just that with these last two movies, he's made junk, and most people seem to have agreed on that.

I'm not knocking anyone for having fun with a bad movie. There are certain bad movies I like myself, but I can at least admit that they are just that, BAD. I'm not quite sure where you're getting the "slamming millions of people who love to see movies and enjoy them" bit, cause that never happened. The movie was slammed, no doubt, but no people were slammed in the writing of this review..... other than Bay, and perhaps LaBeouf and Kruger just a bit.

There's nothing arrogant about it at all, it's just my opinion. I respect yours, why do you have trouble respecting mine? That's pretty arrogant right there. Is it because I don't always find explosions exciting? Do you do this for everyone who disagrees with you? If so, you have a lot of critics and moviegoers to cover. Thousands of people read my reviews every week on various sites and papers, and while not everyone is going to agree, they still at the very least respect my opinion.

Last edited by Hal2001; 07-01-2011 at 01:15 PM..
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  #9  
Old 07-01-2011, 01:19 PM
I gotta say Hal is one of my favorite posters on here.
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  #10  
Old 07-01-2011, 05:07 PM
Great review Hal. I'm a sucker for the Transformers, so able to be a glutton for a change of pace when it comes to this universe, and had a good time with the movie. Your observations are spot on though and glad you at least got to write a kick ass review out of the whole experience. I do feel sorry for a lot of critics who have to review the movie without having the same fan-connection to the characters that I do - not that this excuses the movie, just that I can see where they are coming from and recognize my own filmmaking goodwill. Roger Ebert exemplified this the best in his review by saying he knew he was in trouble when watching the movie at a point where he goes onto describe one of the more popular moments from the old 80s TV show.

Here's to a long hot summer!
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  #11  
Old 07-01-2011, 06:01 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal2001 View Post
There's nothing arrogant about it at all, it's just my opinion. I respect yours, why do you have trouble respecting mine? That's pretty arrogant right there. Is it because I don't always find explosions exciting? Do you do this for everyone who disagrees with you? If so, you have a lot of critics and moviegoers to cover. Thousands of people read my reviews every week on various sites and papers, and while not everyone is going to agree, they still at the very least respect my opinion.
I guess we completely disagee on every point. It is not that I do not respect your opinion, I do not respect your form and idea of how to judge a movie. That is a manner of taste and I feel I am not disrespecting you and only pointing out that I do not like it or agree. In general, I think all critics are useless. You all do the same exact thing. I am trying to plead my case as are you with yours. It is a debate. Our debate is a draw. Everyone wins!

I still feel you are totally wrong about sticking around forever. There used to be a bunch of really famous reviewers on tv. One by one, they are all getting old and not replaced. As more and more newspapers go out of business (not a good thing) and they cut more and more from the newspapers left, it is only a matter of time before less and less people are getting paid for your type of job. There is very little money to be made from the internet for writers. There are at least 10 people on this site who can give every bit as good a review as you can. I am sorry to say, it is all a matter of time.
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  #12  
Old 07-01-2011, 07:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by creekin111 View Post
I gotta say Hal is one of my favorite posters on here.
Co-Sign. I always drop by his reviews whenever they pop up on here.
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  #13  
Old 07-01-2011, 07:52 PM
Hal, another excellent, wonderfully written and well-thought out review of the film. It's not your cup of yea, and your personal opinion is expressed with very solid backing up of your claims. While some people might disagree, it is your opinion, and I'm glad that you don't let anyone else tell you that you're "wrong" or anything like that.

Erroneous... what I think you're doing is dangerous. Because you're making the wrong type of distinction between films. The distinction isn't between eye candy and think pieces. It's not between films of substance over films of style. And judging a film's worth should in NO way be based on its intentions. Because fact of the matter is... all good movies, be they high-octane action eye candy or arthouse dramas or dumb comedies, have the same goal in common: They all want to tell a good story. Some succeed. Some don't.

But I think it's totally wrong to judge different films by different "standards" based on what you perceive the film's intentions to be. Trust me, if you asked Todd Philips or Michael Bay if they set out to make "dumb but fun" movies, they would never agree to that statement. They would both say that they set out to make the best movies they could.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erroneous View Post
For the record, Battle LA is no different from Jurassic Park. Survive. And EVERYONE loved JP. Battle LA is a great movie in showing how a military op goes. As a former military person, I really appreciated that. It was well done from the aspect. Not that you would know anything about it.
In actuality, Battle LA is very different from Jurassic Park. Sure, the basic elements seem the same - survive. But the reason everyone loved Jurassic Park - critics and audiences alike - was because it told a good story with the focus being on strong, well-developed characters played by great actors delivering excellent, believable performances. You see, Jurassic Park wasn't actually about "survive". It was about Grant growing as a character and learning to push through his reluctance to have kids and raise a family. It was about Hammond realizing that it is dangerous to play god. It was about Malcolm proving that chaos theory will prevail and that life will find a way. The fact that all of these characters and themes were wrapped up in a very visually appealing, scary, adrenaline-pumping action-adventure-survival film is just a testament to Spielberg's skill at combining entertainment with art. Battle LA doesn't have themes. Or three-dimensional, well-rounded characters we care about and want to see grow and overcome obstacles. It's purely a style, spectacle-driven film with nothing else behind it.

For the record, I think that the first Transformers film is very successful - and I consider it a great film - precisely because it combines these two elements so well. It is on the one hand a spectacle-driven, high-octane CGI action-adventure event film. But when you really get down to it, it's a classic "boy and his dog" movie about the relationship between Sam and Bumblebee, and how the two inspire and influence one another to overcome their obstacles and difficulties in life and accept who they really are and what they are really capable of. The first Transformers certainly wasn't content with just being a "mindless, turn-off-your-brain popcorn blockbuster film". So why should we hold the other films in the franchise up to different standards?
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  #14  
Old 07-02-2011, 12:04 AM
Jurassic Park > Battle: Los Angeles (duh)

BUT


Battle: Los Angeles >>>>>>>>>>>>> Transformers!!!

Last edited by ilovemovies; 07-02-2011 at 12:19 AM..
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  #15  
Old 07-02-2011, 12:47 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemovies View Post
Jurassic Park > Battle: Los Angeles (duh)

BUT


Battle: Los Angeles >>>>>>>>>>>>> Transformers!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWdd6_ZxX8c
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  #16  
Old 07-02-2011, 08:16 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monotreme View Post
Erroneous... what I think you're doing is dangerous. Because you're making the wrong type of distinction between films. The distinction isn't between eye candy and think pieces. It's not between films of substance over films of style. And judging a film's worth should in NO way be based on its intentions. Because fact of the matter is... all good movies, be they high-octane action eye candy or arthouse dramas or dumb comedies, have the same goal in common: They all want to tell a good story. Some succeed. Some don't.
I guess we can agree to disagree, which is totally fine. Life would be pretty boring if we all agreed. Do you live in NYC now? No more Israel? Do don't happen to work at an electronics store, do you? Don't Mess With The Zohan, before anyone thinks I said something out of line.
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  #17  
Old 07-02-2011, 06:30 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Erroneous View Post
I guess we can agree to disagree, which is totally fine. Life would be pretty boring if we all agreed. Do you live in NYC now? No more Israel? Do don't happen to work at an electronics store, do you? Don't Mess With The Zohan, before anyone thinks I said something out of line.
No, I moved here to go to school. No electronics store for me...!
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  #18  
Old 07-03-2011, 10:58 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monotreme View Post
No, I moved here to go to school. No electronics store for me...!
Good luck! If you do, I know people who were also in the Israel armed forces.
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