What can be said about Transformers: Dark of the Moon? It's proof that bigger doesn't always mean better.
Watch the trailer below for the plot: Shia LaBeef (sp?) has a new hot girlfriend (thus assuring this is a science fiction movie) and there are giant talking robots and bad robots blow the hell out of Chicago and blah-blah-woof-woof. Do we go to these things for plot? Who said yes? Get out of my blog, weirdo!
Here's what you need to know: Rosie Huntington-Whitley is hot and cute and less skanky than Megan Fox (which is why she's Jason Statham's girlfriend in real life and not Shia's). There are several funny nerd-meta jokes which riff off of Leonard Nimoy's voicing Sentinel Prime. Sam's goofy parents are back, but unlike most people, I like them. There are some new Autobots and Decepticons, but other than shorthand stereotyping like the new Ferrari one having a "It'sa me, Mario!" accent, they're just more metal. There is also some slightly clever writing explaining the true origins of the Space Race and how some have collaborated for decades with the Decepticons.
Not that you care about characters, but there's a smarmy boss of Rosie's played by Patrick Dempsey; a slumming Frances McDormand as a prickly NSA chief; and John Malkovich apparently deciding that he wants Christopher Walken's career in a schizophrenic role which starts of one way and then changes into something totally different for no explained reason. Ken Jeong also has a small bit part that he works hard for laughs.
But you don't go to Transformers movies for plot and characters; you go for the BAYHEM! As long as you see giant fighting robots tearing sh*t up (as my girlfriend stated as her bare minimum for satisfaction from the first film in 2007), it's all good, right? Normally I'd agree and while there are some truly epic action scenes here, it gets so crazy and chaotic for so long at the end, it starts turning into noise that you can't focus on anymore. Look at the last shot of the trailer before the title card goes up. Look at all the whirring rotating teeth and whatnot. The level of detail in the robots and environments is so minute - the 'bots have multiple gears in their eyes now, for instance - that there simply is no way to take it all in so it actually goes unnoticed.
The movie is also too damn long at over 2-1/2 hours. The distribution of action is also too backloaded. The finale involving several set pieces, each of which would be the grand finale of another action movie, runs nearly an hour and by the time it's over, you're just numb from sensory overload and I saw it in plain 2D on a big theater screen. They could've cut the end down to a half-hour, taking the other 20 minutes and spread them out over a sub-2 hour movie and been the better for it.
My first remark to the girlfriend afterwards was, "Well, I'm set for my fighting robot movies*. I don't need anymore."
Score: 7/10. Catch it on a huge screen at a matinee or dollar show.
* Not counting the upcoming Hugh Jackman movie, Real Steel, which was shot in Detroit and coincidentally, I was in one of the locations used today (as I write this review).