Pointless Nonsense

Posted in movies by Bill on July 3, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a stupid title for a stupid movie. It does feature lovingly rendered giant robots fighting, so it’s not without its charms, but it is unquestionably moronic. Interestingly, and I wonder if it’s because of the early morning showing with the 3D glasses (more on that later), the audience was totally down with the idiocy. Some of the stupid things, which will include major spoilers:

  • There is no permanent dark side of the moon. The moon always faces the earth, so there is an unchanging far side of the moon, but when that side faces the sun, it is lit while the side we see is quite dark. When making a movie with action that takes place on the moon, I’d like to think you’d at least consult the wikipedia article for glaring inaccuracies.
  • Literally all of the Autobots appeared to have died. Then, when they “unexpectedly” returned (the franchise is called Transformers, not Sam Witwicky & Some Army Guys), the audience gasped and applauded.
  • The audience also applauded every time a main character faced “certain death” and they were “surprisingly” saved at the last minute by another character at the last second.
  • The audience also applauded for a couple of hokey speeches that were laughably corny (one of them was something like “we must defeat the Decepticons… FOR FREEDOM!”). All these times the crowd clapped while I groaned or laughed makes me worry my already serious case of cynical asshole is getting worse.
  • Optimus offers the “Matrix of Leadership” (still an extremely corny name) to Sentinel, Optimus’ mentor, now revived, who declines it, saying Optimus knows more about Earth. Later, we learn that Sentinel is evil and made a bargain with Megatron to teleport Cybertron to earth and enslave humanity. I assumed that he declined the matrix of leadership because he felt guilty over his betrayal and no longer felt he deserved it, or something like that, and they’d do something to cover that later on. But no, it’s never mentioned again, and Sentinel shows no signs of remorse. I get that there are no shades of gray in this movie; every character is Good or Evil. What I don’t get is, given the lack of complexity, why the scene with Optimus offering up the matrix of leadership was even in the damn movie? It’s irrelevant to the plot, is neither funny nor exciting, and, relevant because this is a Michael Bay movie, it features neither explosions or exploitative shots of women’s asses. So what was the point?
  • Sentinel, voiced by Leonard Nimoy, delivers the line “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few,” which is one of the most nonsensical Star Trek references I’ve ever heard, since he shouts this line in an effort to justify enslaving six billion people so that he and at most a few hundred other robots could be like gods.
  • Rosie Huntingon-Whitely’s character is introduced wearing a man’s dress shirt and no pants, walking up a flight of stairs while the camera follows her from behind (and below), so close up on her ass the whole time that she can probably count it as a colonoscopy. And that concluded her positive contributions to the movie. She can only act slightly better than Megan Fox, but she’s not even movie hot to me. Her nose is weird and her lips are overly pouty. Aside from not being too overly skinny, she’s everything that’s wrong with how supermodels look. Interestingly, the imdb trivia page lists the candidates to replace Megan Fox, and everyone else on the list is unquestionably hotter except Heidi Montag, who I can’t imagine was really considered, and Anna Kendrick, who is still kinda cute, can act, and would be totally believable as Shia LeBeouf’s girlfriend. But this movie will make eleventy billion dollars and now instead of some other, hotter/better girl, we’ll see RHW in a bunch of movies for no good reason.
  • When the movie starts, Sam lives in Washington D.C. with his girlfriend. His girlfriend works for a billionaire at a fancy building full of antique cars (the building is actually an art museum in Milwaukee, and the weird shape is because it’s a swan and actually opens and closes its wings). So she somehow commutes to and from this building. Later, they take a helicopter from the fancy building to Chicago (the chopper comes in over Lake Michigan into the downtown Chicago area, so they definitely didn’t just take it from the airport). I wouldn’t be surprised if their are helicopters that could cover the distance from DC to Chicago, but I would assume they’d be quite slow compared to the private jet that the billionaire guy would have to have.
  • The change of setting to Chicago made no sense in the context of the plot anyway. The only reason for it, as far as I can tell, is that after ripping apart the Lincoln Memorial, there were no recognizable monuments left in DC that haven’t been destroyed on screen a million times already, so having the climactic fights in Chicago would let them blow up shit that isn’t often blown up. But then of course why not set the whole movie in Chicago? Just for the one shot of Megatron sitting in the Lincoln Memorial chair?

Aside from all that, there’s some really bad characterization.

  • Sam has finished college by this point. I wouldn’t expect him to be completely grown up, but he’s no less of a spaz than he was in the first one. The main “growth” in his character over the course of the series is that now he insists on telling everyone that he’s a hero, and gets upset when no one believes him.
  • Optimus Prime, meanwhile, is a total dick. A key part of his plan in the movie is to let the earth get taken over by Decepticons so that world leaders will realize how much they need the Autobots. Also, after defeating Megatron and faced with a helpless and almost completely immobile Sentinel, Optimus executes his former mentor without hesitation and no one feels bad about the death of a once-great Autobot. I guess because in this movie he’s Evil.
  • Patrick Dempsey’s Evil billionaire character is under no threat from the Decepticons, really, he just figures they’ll win, so he wants to cooperate with the side that’s going to win. But when the Autobots are successfully fighting back and on the verge of victory, Dempsey remains on the Decepticon side and reactivates their teleportation thing. A tiny exchange of mid-fight dialogue where Sam goes “why?! We can win this!” and he responds with some sort of “if you win, I spend my life in prison” line, my problems with this would be completely taken care of. But again, he’s a character that has been declared Evil, so everything he does must be Evil.

I was suckered into the 3D yet again because of more talk about how they’ve upped the bar and now we’ll see what 3D can really do in a movie. It still sucks. The frame rate needs to go up, it needs to be a lot brighter, and things still often look like completely flat objects at different depths (I think these must have been the scenes that were filmed regularly and converted to 3D in post). There was exactly one scene where I thought the 3D added something, and that was in a space battle. When someone makes an action/SciFi space movie in 3D, hopefully with the frame rate jacked up to 60-100 FPS, I will pay for it again. I actually bet the trench run at the end of Star Wars might look pretty great, if done correctly. But I doubt I will be able to give my money to George Lucas for that.

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