“We have to wingsuit in!”
My review of Transormers 3: Dark of the Moon
I had hope going into Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon. Why did I have hope? God only knows.
The first Transformers was okay at best. The second was the most awful piece of trash I’ve ever paid money to see. So why the hope? Well, the consensus amongst every nerdy movie reviewer was that it wasn’t a great film overall, but the last hour was the best action film ever and made it all worth it.
I set my internal alarm to go off in the last hour so I wouldn’t miss all the action. And I waited. And I waited. And I waiting some more. And then the credits rolled. I just turned to my friend, David, and laughed. Was it as bad as the second film? I don’t think it was but I hate it more because I thought it might be good at some point.
It’s not often I see a film that actually enrages me just for having wasted my time. I can enjoy just about anything. This was just so insultingly dumb I couldn’t handle it. Terrible acting (from every human and robot on screen) aside, the logical flaws throughout make it impossible to enjoy any of it.
With the large part of my brain that wasn’t engaged in trying to understand the film, I invented a new Michael Bay drinking game. Every time anyone in his films utters a line (any line will do) just ask “why?”. If you can’t answer that question, take a drink. I give even the most ardent alcoholic ten minutes of this film before they are curled up in the fetal position wishing they had never been born.
Let’s look at some examples. Note: These might spoil parts of the movie for you but that’s okay because you shouldn’t see it anyway.
The Decepticons (Transformer bad guys) have taken over Chicago. They shoot down every military aircraft we send in. So how do we get troops on the ground? “We’ve got to wingsuit in!” Why? Take that drink.
See, wingsuiting involves dressing up like a flying squirrel, and jumping off something really high. We can’t fly planes into the airspace without being shot down. So what do we do? Fly a flippin’ plane into the heart of Chicago. But I thought we couldn’t do that? Shut up. We’ll fly a plane into the heart of the city and jump out. These planes can do vertical take off and landing. If we can actually fly into the middle of the city (even though we’re told we can’t), why not just fly to the middle of the city and land? Then everyone walks off the plane and we don’t have to endure this jumping out of it silliness. You, sir, get a bonus drink.
And this brings us to Bay’s newest fetish. Back in the good ol’ days, he just enjoyed panning the camera around the main characters in dramatic slow motion. Now his new thing is apparently men jumping off of things. I’ll see if I can convey the stupidity of this in words. It will be difficult. I’ll use small words.
There’s a military team on the ground. There are Decepticons on the ground. The military team splits up. Half stays on the ground to attack the Decepticons. The other half runs all the way to the top of a skyscraper. They then jump off the building to parachute back down to the ground to fight said Decepticons. Why? Bottoms up, my friend.
But wait, they have to be parachuting down with some awesome weapon that has to be deployed from above, right? Nope. Just parachuted straight down, landed and started shooting. Oh, wait, one of the parachutes did land on a Decepticon, thereby blinding him. I guess that was worth risking the lives of half the team. Sure.
You may think I’m focusing an awful lot on flaws involving scenes with humans. That would be because these are magical disappearing robots. Out of a nearly three-hour running time (don’t even get me started on that) at least half of the film is just humans running around doing dumb crap. All the robots disappear. Humans get themselves in trouble. Robots reappear to save the day. Lather, rinse and repeat for three hours. At some point in the big finale, Megatron, the Decepticon leader, just completely disappears. The next time we see him, he’s literally sitting in an alleyway, like a homeless guy. Battle happening all around and he’s just sitting there. Why? Aren’t you getting a little tipsy yet? Even the computer-generated robot wants nothing to do with this movie.
In what is meant to be a big dramatic scene, Bumblebee, one of the few recognizable Transformers is captured along with a few other Autobots (Transformer good guys). The bad guys then begin to execute them one by one. Line ’em up. Shoot ’em in the head. But wait, haven’t we watched Bumblebee for two and a half films now, turn his arms into guns and blow things away left and right. Well, yeah, but he’s not going to do that here until after the first Autobot is executed. Why? Drink up.
So he just stands there and let’s his friend get executed despite the fact that he has the power to stop it? Yup. Kind of a jerk move if you ask me.
Of course I really should have seen that one coming. Turns out the Autobots, instead of being heroes, are just complete turds. The point of the bad guys’ plan was to invade Earth and tell the government that if they send the Autobots away, they won’t destroy everything. The Autobots leave the planet and the bad guys destroy everything anyway.
Only the Autobots don’t really leave (who didn’t see that coming?). They show up again after Chicago is completely destroyed. At which point, Optimus Prime (the Autobot leader) gives what I’m guessing was supposed to be the big ra-ra speech as a preamble to much butt-kicking. However, roughly translated, his speech was “hey, we saw this coming so we let them kill millions of people in Chicago so you’d see how much you needed us. Stop whining, you’ve got plenty more cities.” The Optimus Prime of my childhood was an unadulterated hero. Now he’s the galaxy’s largest robot jerk.
I’m just done with Transformers. I know, being 30, I should have probably been done with them long ago. But this was just embarrassing filmmaking. I’m all for dumb fun. This was just dumb. Bay and the studio should be ashamed (I’m looking at you Spielberg). I’m not complaining because it didn’t pay tribute to something I enjoyed as a kid. I’m complaining that it’s just a terrible movie on every level. I know it’ll make a billion dollars (which is so, so sad) and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Edit: A few things I forgot to mention that come back to me in moments of pure rage.
They felt the need to make computer-generated versions of JFK and Richard Nixon. These were the worst computer animated humans I’ve ever seen. Just awful.
For about five minutes, Optimus Prime hangs from a bunch of cables on a crane. Just hangs there? Yup, the hero of the film just hanging there waiting for someone to come untangle him. What a jerk.