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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 15: Transformers: Dark of the Moon


July 15: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

"The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets."
Directed by: Michael Bay, Rated: PG-13, 154 minutes

I have never liked The Transformers movies. I feel they are loud, obnoxious, completely lacking of any substance, and a money-making vehicle that brings terrific actors to lows you'd never imagine. Sure, they are completely tailored to being huge summer blockbusters that are best enjoyed with a vat of fat-drenched popcorn, but at what point is this no longer acceptable? I believe a franchise has it's weight limit, and once the mess finds itself too full of shit to continue, it all implodes on itself. Unfortunately, and I hate saying this, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (T3 from here on out) does not bring the franchise over its threshold. In fact, it's a much better film than the second installment and, while it has plenty, plenty of flaws, I kind of had fun watching it. But dammit, does this thing push it close. 

Michael Bay- polished turd pusher since 1995. 

T3's story really doesn't matter, because there really is none. The film starts off showing the United States in the 1960s and the buildup to the lunar landing in '69. Of course, T3 has no qualms on changing history and reveals that the Apollo 11 mission was designed from the start as a investigation of an alien space wreck on the moon. After a very Armageddon-like, over-patriotic series of events, T3 jumps to present time, with a close-up of a woman's ass. Here, we see Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), an even less talented and less attractive Megan Fox replacement. She's the new girlfriend of Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), the savior of the world in the first two films and shouting enthusiast. They're tangled up in sweet young love and would do absolutely anything for each other. Of course, to throw in some unnecessary conflict, Sam's no longer involved in top secret giant machine missions and finds himself looking for a job, as I can only assume to be some faux-commentary on the "hard times" that has fallen upon all of us. Either that, or a sad excuse to re-introduce the two most annoying characters in the entire franchise- Sam's parents. There is so much filler in the first half hour of the film, you begin to wonder whether anything's going to happen and if the film is even worth continuing. Jump ahead- turns out that the Decepticons (the bad robots) are planning on opening up some portal, or what not, that would bring their home planet, Cybertron, to Earth and start fresh after their home world was destroyed. Enter the Autobots (the good robots), led by the part-time Mack truck, Optimus Prime. Unevenly matched and seemingly defeated before it all even begins, the Autobots team up with the US Government (Amurrika!) to take down the enemy. Sam's thrown in the mix because he just has to be there (it's in a contract somewhere), as well as his "damsel in distress". 

Clearly, she's the fish in her native England's "national dish", the fish and chips. 

While very little happens for the first chunk of the film, everything happens in the last hour and a half. It should be mentioned that T3 lasts a whopping 154 minutes. After "character development" and a bunch of small robot fights, T3 climaxes in a 90 minute explosion fest of special effects, awesome stunts, and absolutely no story. Hell, if I have to sit through something like this, make it as over-the-top epic as possible. T3 does just that, and while the climax (which really could be considered half the movie) is a little longer than it should be, it looks so f**king awesome you can't help but enjoy it. At this point of the film, as well as the franchise, I have absolutely no expectations, or even hope, for it all and when it becomes bat-shit crazy, I can't help but just sit back, laugh at the ridiculousness, and love every moment of it. Watching Chicago being completely demolished by talking machines and giant worm-bots make-a-me-happy. It's also worth mentioning that a stunt involving wind-suits and sky diving takes place, and although it's completely implausible, it's a one-of-the-kind spectacle. As always, no specific spoilers, the good guys win and pretty much, immediately after the fight concludes, the credits roll. Literally, like a minute after the fight is over. T3 doesn't even try to end with anything profound. It's fully aware that any story was lost halfway through and completely abandons it by the end. 

That's cool. 

The Transformers franchise has finally realized what it is with T3. An eye-candy spectacle that needs no story or development and simply a special effects festival that rapes the eyes. It's in this realization and full acceptance of this fact that T3 shines in its own confusing way. Don't call T3 my turn around for the franchise or that I'm now a converted fan of the series, but call it my acceptance of the fact that there's nothing at the core. The one part I have not been able to give up on, however, is the fact that The Transformers movies have lowered otherwise great actors to the lowest of lows. T3 features John Malkovich (tanned-orange), Frances McDormand (government super-bitch), John Turturro (conspiracy obsessed whack job), and Patrick Dempsey (power-crazy playboy). Each of these actors play cartoon characters that add nothing to the plot and only exist to provide the laughs any fresh-out-of-drama school "actor" could elicit. Why waste money on all this talent when you can have more robots and explosions? 

A boy's best friend is his fire. His over-the-top, computer generated fire. 

I don't feel I need to either recommend or discourage a viewing of T3, as nearly everyone has already seen it. All I can say is that it is certainly better than I thought it would be and I enjoyed every bit of the drawn out conclusion. I've never been a sucker for style over substance (I hated Avatar), but for some reason T3 did it for me. Throughout my viewing, I even told myself how much I hated enjoying what was on screen, but a part of me would not relent. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is an epic spectacle that once it gets going, never stops. Literally, once it slows down, it just ends. There's no resolving action or quick wrap-up. In conclusion, f**k you Michael Bay and your ability to craft action sequences and f**k you even harder for making me enjoy them. 

The Good:
the second half, also known as the climax, that's non-stop action for a good ninety minutes
The Bad:
seeing great actors succumb to the power of a big paycheck and thus, throwing out any respect they may have had for their craft
The Ugly:
... enjoying it when I've hated the first two films with such fiery passion

Overall: A begrudgingly high, 7.0/10


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