REVIEW: The third movie in director Michael Bay's Transformers trilogy is a vast improvement from the second, a film that so relentlessly and senselessly barraged my senses and pummeled my intellect that I left the theater feeling like I'd just lost a boxing match. I literally hated that film, so although it's faint praise to say that this film restores the series to the glory of the first movie, it gets the job done as junk-food entertainment. It has jaw-dropping spectacle, some simple but effective comedy, and even a few moments of genuine pathos (shots of stunned and mourning Chicago civilians are surprisingly affecting). Bay even follows the lead of X:Men-First Class and has some fun with revisionist history (watch for surprise cameos by real-life historical legends).
The same old weaknesses are present, however. Disturbing racial stereotypes are found in the characterizations of “comic relief robots,” though this has been dialed down somewhat, as has the crude humor and sexuality. As was the case with the other Transformers movies, this one runs for too long and has far too much padding in the story (though, thankfully, that is mostly towards the beginning). Like most Michael Bay movies, the female lead is one-dimensional eye-candy. Newcomer Rosie Huntingon-Whitely (reportedly a Victoria's Secret model) is either a bland actress or does nothing with the limited script. She has even less chemistry with franchise frontman Shia Labeouf than did Megan Fox (who was written out after she badmouthed Bay, calling him “Hitler with a megaphone”).
Labeouf, predictably, speaks very fast and runs from the chaos all around him (though to his credit a scene where he's riding in a car while it transforms is genuinely hilarious). The supporting cast gets to have some fun, especially the actors who play Labeouf's parents. As tactless as they sometimes are, they're the closest thing this series has to a believable couple, and I do enjoy that their quirky marriage works.
These movies, however, are all about the effects and the carnage, and it is here that Tranformers 3 doesn't disappoint. Unlike the hyper-actively edited and chaotically shot previous films, one can follow the action here, especially in the legitimately thrilling last hour in which the city of Chicago is turned into a giant battlefield. In his own strange way, Bay honors the real-life heroism of the U.S. military. He has them take down evil robots in courageous and thrilling scenes; one involving squirrel suits and actual stuntmen performing a real-life skydiving stunt is incredible.
From this film, and from all his others, it's obvious that Michael Bay is a man who loves America, loves “hot women,” loves fast cars, and loves to blow stuff up. In short, he's a twelve-year old male with the technical proficiency and millions of dollars to make his fantasy come true on the big screen. If you're into that sort of thing…have fun!
CONTENT OVERVIEW: Transformers- Dark of the Moon is rated PG-13. There is one mouthed f-word, several obscene insults, and scattered profanity. There is an early close-up shot of a woman's behind in underwear and her bare legs, as well as a bathroom confrontation that is humorously mistaken for a homosexual encounter.. There is a good deal of action violence, with robots shooting and fatally maiming each other, human beings disintegrated, a fairly brutal fistfight, and several very tense scenes with people and robots in peril.
MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: Survival at the expense of another is selfish tyranny; sacrificing one's own life (or being willing to) for the freedom of others is truly heroic.
Jonathan Decker is the clinical director of Your Family Expert. He is a licensed marriage and family therapist, husband, and father of five. Jonathan earned a masters degree in family therapy from Auburn University as well as a bachelor's degree in clinical psychology from Brigham Young University. He is an actor, author, and television personality.