After acknowledging he dropped the ball with the diabolical train wreck that was TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, director Michael Bay promised audiences something darker and more coherent for the third part of his epic, but so far dramatically inert, Hasbro-inspired trilogy. But when your film makes close to $1 billion at the worldwide box office it’s difficult to argue that the formula isn’t working. So, narrative structure and character development be damned, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is here and it’s bigger, louder and dumber than ever. The film opens with its strongest sequence – a whistle-stop re-imagining of the 1960s Space Race, rewritten to reveal it was actually a race to reach an alien craft that crashed on the moon. The Americans beat the Soviets to the wreckage only to discover a Russian probe has already pinched an important piece of alien tech. When Optimus discovers this, he returns to the ship himself and retrieves its hidden cargo and Autobot pilot. Soon after this, everything gets progressively incoherent.
While storytelling has never been Bay’s strong suit, he’s proved himself extremely talented at casting top-drawer character actors to bolster his leads. T3DOTM proves no exception, with the likes of John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey and Ken Jeong brought on board to perform bafflingly inappropriate slapstick comedy routines whenever giant robots momentarily cease destroying major cities or each other. Shia LeBoeuf bumbles around as our presumed hero, this time accompanied by underwear model Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley after Megan Fox was unceremoniously fired shortly before shooting began. Although the script was hastily rewritten to introduce her as a new character, it’s painfully clear the female lead was always meant to be Fox’s Mikaela. On top of all the script’s other innumerable faults, we now have Sam Witwicky risking life and limb to save a girl we barely know.
Very little can be said to convince potential viewers to stay away from T3DOTM. It is ghastly, lowbrow, mind numbing filmmaking of the most extravagant and offensive kind, but is almost guaranteed to be one of the year’s highest grossers. Suffice to say that if you enjoyed the previous films or delight in sticking your head in a metal bucket of igniting fireworks then go buy your over-priced ticket and have a blast. Be prepared for 153 minutes of shiny cars, gorgeous women, curiously innovative architecture, cash-grabbing celebrities and enough sparks, crashes and fireballs to induce an apoplectic fit, all filmed in the glossiest, most fetishistic manner imaginable by a director you can almost hear panting behind the camera. While the 3D photography succeeds in the same way Cameron utilised it in AVATAR, it remains an unnecessary gimmick that only helps trigger your inevitable migraine. Rather than being entertaining, T3DOTM is exhausting and left me feeling violated and physically beaten down. Almost anything else currently showing is preferable, although worryingly TRANSFORMERS appears to have colonized every screen in town.