I don’t care about this movie, I really don’t. I’ve been burned too many times to even care at this point. Something about this series slips my brain into a state of bilious apathy. To admit that this movie is better than the previous installment is like saying that a rectal exam is easier to endure than a nasal swab. It’s as much fun as both.
Like a bad relationship in which I’ve forgiven my partner once too often, I know the pattern by now because it doesn’t seem willing to change: The good-natured Autobots have a tiff with the hate-fueled Decepticons and they have brought their war to our planet so we can watch one of our most beautiful metropolises (In this case, Chicago) demolished for well over an hour. What did Chicago do to deserve this?
Transformers: Dark of the Moon has more story than the previous films, but it is still another loud, dumb, crude, overlong monstrosity. The story is convoluted and involves a plot that begins in the early 1960s, surmising that President Kennedy’s determination to put a man on the moon was fueled by an alien spacecraft called The Ark that landed there (Kennedy occupies the film via a bad special effect that is ineffective and rather creepy). Between the giant robots that inspired the moon landing and the mutants that got involved in The Cuban Missle Crisis in this summer’s X-Men: First Class, it is wonder that JFK didn’t resign.
Here in the good old 21st century, the war between the two robot factions has come to earth and the only real question to be raised is which faction will occupy the planet once our cities are reduced to rubble in the mechanical struggle. I didn’t really care why the robots came to earth or what they did when they got here. After the movie explains their intentions, I somehow felt that I was better off not knowing. I thought back to the simplistic purpose of this summer’s superb Super 8, in which the visiting alien’s central focus was a willingness to tear this planet apart just to get off of it, The Transformers plot over-extends itself.
On the human scale, the Autobot’s top ally is Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) who has graduated from college, taken up with a gorgeous new girlfriend named Carley (Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely) and is frustrated because he can’t find a decent job. Added to that is the presence of a billionaire car collector (Rob Morrow) who is Carley’s former boyfriend. Sam is frustrated a lot in this movie. He screams a lot, throws fits a good chunk of the time and seems so animated that we wonder if he isn’t on something. It is possible that Mr. LeBeouf may have figured out what I have about his role: If we stand back and look at this plot from a distance, Sam really has no purpose in this movie.
Humans are beside the point. My overriding problem with Transformers: Dark of the Moon rests with the robots. The Autobots and the Decepticons are incomprehensible when you look at them. I can’t tell one from the other. They seem built from a morass of metal that forms something 40-feet tall with arms and legs and something that might be mistaken for a face. This time around some have hair for reasons I can’t begin to explain. Those faces aren’t expressive, but hidden within all the metal. They have mouths but why do they need them? When they fight and their bodies are pressed against one another, you can’t tell one from the other. They’re metal, therefore they can’t get hurt, so why do we care? If they get destroyed, they can be rebuilt. Right?
Plus, they make no logical sense. How does a 50 foot-tall robot have enough metal in his body to transform into a full-sized pick-up truck? They are on this planet to fight one another, but what are they fighting about? What makes a robot good or evil? Who decided which side they would be on? What makes them intelligent? What makes them able to think and talk? What do they do when they aren’t fighting? Who sent them here? Who built them? Why were they built? Why do they transform into a automobiles? The robots are all male, so are their females? Was this trip really necessary?