Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Friday, July 8, 2011 at 9:30PM
Matthew Kopelke in Film

Transformers. More than meets the eye, as the old saying goes. The simple fact is, the classic 1980s cartoon series never had much depth going for it, even when it was at its most pure. It was merely one of a wave of cartoons designed to sell toys to kids. The only difference between now and then is that we’re able to have a heck of a lot more realism in what happens on screen. So as the new Transformers film series heads to its third, and hopefully final, cinematic outing, the question we have to ask ourselves is - was Michael Bay’s efforts here worth it? Was this a bold new cinematic adventure, or merely a messy tribute to nostalgia? Honestly, while it’s great hearing Peter Cullen back as Optimus Prime, the movie is just plain boring.

This is a pure popcorn movie, plain and simple. Michael Bay certainly knows how to make a good action film, and in Dark of the Moon (easily one of the stupidest titles ever to grace a movie) he takes his stunts and visuals to a whole new level. The final attack on Chicago features some of the most impressive CGI to grace the film series up until this point. It’s definitely a feast for the eyes, but it’s not a terribly filling feast - more of a gorging on McDonalds rather than a fine 3-course meal. The problem here is that the CGI elements are so messy, with particulate matter all over the shop, that it makes following what is happening on screen quite difficult. It looks impressive, just so long as you don’t try to understand what’s happening.

The other major problem that I have with Dark of the Moon is a simple one - we go to this movie to see CGI monsters beat the crap outta each other, and yet we’re forced to sit through another pointless installment of the Sam Witwicky soap opera saga. While Shia LaBeouf is a sound enough actor, the fact is the human element to this entire set of movies is simply not needed, and it actively detracts from the main thrust of the storyline. I never once liked the way in which the central plot would grind to a halt for several minutes at a time so that we could watch Sam struggle to find a job, roaming around whinging about his lot in life after not getting whatever he wanted when he saved the world. Urgh. Just let me watch robots fight!!

While the actual construction of the central narrative was interesting (although I found it overtly silly the way in which the space race of the 1960s was retconned as nothing more than an attempt to discover what had crashed on the Moon), it was all entirely superficial and felt very unsatisfying. This film really only connected to me on a nostalgic level, a desire to see the things from my childhood brought to life (and in many ways ruined as an experience).  It was nice, though, to hear Peter Cullen back as the voice of Optimus Prime, as well as Frank Welker back once again as Soundwave. The real surprise appearance was Leonard Nimoy, as Sentinel Prime. It was a great return to the franchise for Nimoy, after a gap of 25 years.

Overall, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is entertaining enough as a light popcorn flick, but certainly nothing more than that. Despite this, however, at times the vain attempts to include a human element within the overall production do mean that enough silly bits get in the way of good CGI watching robots beat the crap out of each other. This film is worth seeing if you are a Transformers fan, and want to see how the production team manage to bring this latest trilogy of films to a close. But if you want a real Transformers fix, rent the cartoon series on DVD.

Article originally appeared on The Sunday Talk (
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