Transformers: Dark of the Moon

If you like behemoth robot warriors, terrified humans, falling buildings, skydiver heroes, explosions every 30 seconds, metropolises being destroyed, and more mayhem than you could imagine in a lifetime, you’ll get your money’s worth with Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I hate those things, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I forgot it two seconds after leaving the theatre and will never see it again, but I did sit on the edge of my seat for (a sometimes interminable) 157 minutes and was swept away into another world. The movie employed thousands of well-deserving film workers and made $400,000,000 at the box office last weekend–so while it not’s not ever going to be confused with a piece of cinematic art–director Michael Bay sure did make a heck of a movie–as well as a global sensation.

For those who don’t kno–like me before I saw the movie and researched it, Transformers are robot creatures who come from the planet Cybertron. The good guys are Autobots and the bad guys are Decepticons and they’re always at one another. Instead of emerging from the head of a film Zeus like Stephen Spielberg, Transformers began life as Hasbro toys. The kid-friendly robots were so popular, Hollywood decided to make movies about them. Thus the Transformers film franchise was created, of which this latest one, according to Transformer experts at least, is the best. And everyone agrees, including me, that it’s some of the best 3-D work ever.

Though sentient, the robots have human voices, like those belonging to well-known human actors such as Leonard Nimoy, Hugo Weaving and Bill O’Reilly — oops, Reilly plays himself not a robot. The amazing thing about the robots is they can twist their parts into other things–transform themselves if you will–so there are a lot of sports cars, fire engines, 6-wheelers and other vehicles on the highway that instantly transform into huge robots. It’s really fun, but you’re never going to trust yourself next to a truck on the freeway again.

All the robots are guys, Just like in Green Lantern, there are no alien women robot warriors. Sexist, yes, but who really cares–there are no redeeming social values in these Transformer movies — they’re just brain candy for teenage boys and middle-aged women like me who want a few hours respite from the summer heat.

The movie starts out with a great, truly captivating tale. It seems that our space program began, not by inspiration from President John F. Kennedy, but because of the Transformers. One of their huge space ships, with lots of powerful cosmos-threatening weapons, crash landed on the dark side of the moon and the U.S. wanted to investigate the mess before the Russians did. Thus we watch the fictional Buzz Aldrin searching through the Cybertron space vehicle and then get to see the real Buzz Aldrin making TV appearances today–a nice touch. This history is all hush-hush, kind of like Roswell on a bigger scale, so only a handful of scientists and a young man named Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBoeuf) know what happened.

Poor Sam. Seems he was a big hero in the last two Transformer movies but now he’s just an overeducated schnook unable to find a job. His girlfriend loves him anyway. This girlfriend used to be dark-haired Megan Fox but she complained too much in public about director Michael Bay, comparing his tyrannical behavior on the set to that of Hitler. Executive Producer Stephen Spielberg doesn’t like that kind of verbiage, rightly so, and he made Mr. Bay fire her. Thus we have a new girlfriend. This is Carly, played by too-gorgeous blonde Victoria Secret model Rosie-Huntington-Whiteley. Rosie seems like a perfectly nice girl but her lips are so bee-stung I kept wondering if they’ve been lathered in nectar.

Carly works for this slimy rich dude, Dylan (Josh Duhamel), who lusts after her and helps Sam get a job at a mega-huge corporation, where he must endure a disgusting interview with H.R. guy John Malkovich. While working in the mailroom, Sam’s past (what ever that is) is discovered by a maniacal vice president (Ken Jeong) who tears up the comic scenery trying to tell Sam the truth about what big corporations are doing with the Transformers–it seems the cowardly creeps have agreed to be the allies of the bad robots while those horrible villains turn every other human on the planet into slave labor.

The head of U.S. intelligence is a no-nonsense woman named Meaning, played by Frances McDormand in a hilarious, perfect pitch performance. She’s so brilliant, I wish the Hollywood suspender guys would apologize for their Transformer sexism and make a whole movie with Meaning (pun sort of intended). Also showing up is a crazed Transformer prophet of doom played with excessive élan by John Turturro. It seems he and Meaning had a one-night escapade a long time ago and Turturro has been longing for a repeat attempt ever since. You have to wait until the end of the movie for that payoff.

Lots and lots of things happen, none of which was particularly clear to me but all of which was watchable. The bad robots invade and rip apart Chicago, setting their command posts from the rooftops of the city. These scenes made King Kong clinging to the top of the Empire State Building in New York look like a baby-made home movie–they are truly spectacular and worth sitting through the whole movie to catch them.

The bad robots kill thousands of pedestrians, fire bomb anything that moves, and knock over half of Chicago’s skyscrapers. Sam and his girlfriend and a team of manly military experts, including smart-talking Tyrese Gibson, are caught in these buildings, slipping and sliding every which way, trying to prevent getting blown out a window or smashed by a rolling metal file cabinet. I can not imagine 911 families watching this movie without getting sick–the scenes were masterful, but terribly realistic and seemed to go on forever.

Eventually the good robots get it together and fight back so there’s a lot more explosions and falling buildings. One of the best parts of the movie is the military guys, dressed in their flying bat outfits, jumping out of a plane overhead and floating down for a long trip to the ground until their parachutes open.Sam and his lovely Rosie, who somehow always has unmessed hair and never a smudge on her pretty face, keep just missing disaster every few minutes.

Somehow it all ends. Don’t ask me how. It seemed like it was a happy ending. Except for all those thousands of Chicagoans who lay dead in the streets.

But who cares about them? They’re not going to be in the sequel anyway.

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