Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

Transformers: Dark of the Moon ReviewSynopsis
When the Transformers learn that an ancient Cybertonian ship is on the moon, the Autobots must race to discover its secrets before the Decepticons do.

Review
After the disappointment of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I went into the third live-action Transformers film with caution. Thankfully, Transformers: Dark of the Moon seems to have learned after Revenge of the Fallen and treats the audience with more respect. The humor isn’t as immature as before. In fact, there is not as much humor as there was previous films in the franchise. Whereas the last two films had jokes coming from multiple sources, this movie primarily relies on Shia LeBeouf to carry that aspect of it. Instead, it takes itself much more seriously, which ends up helping overall because the story is much bigger and epic than before. Like Revenge of the Fallen, it goes bigger than the films before in a true sequel fashion. This focus on the story and characters rather than the childish humor creates a much more engaging and exciting experience.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the definition of a β€œblockbuster” movie. It’s big, it’s loud, and it takes you on an adventure. It isn’t as glob-spanning as Revenge of the Fallen but that’s okay. While the world trotting grandeur isn’t there, the action is much bigger, which is saying something considering the last film. The best part is that this movie does a much better job of framing the action scenes around the robots than the previous films. There are still multiple close-ups during the fights making it tricky to see everything but for the most part, the camera stays further back, giving a better view of the fight, especially against the backdrop of Chicago during the final act.

I thought Transformers: Dark of the Moon was GOOD πŸ™‚ Just like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen went bigger than Transformers, Dark of the Moon goes bigger than Revenge of the Fallen. Even though the film is longer, the story is much more focused and the humor is much better, being toned back severely and being more serious in general. Overall, it is a vast improvement on all counts than the let down of its immediate predecessor in the franchise.

Trivia
According to ILM, the company employed its entire rendering machinery to use on the film. This added up to using more than 200,000 rendering hours per day, the equivalent of 22.8 years of render time in 24 hours. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Ehren Kruger – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Shia LeBeouf – Sam Witwicky
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – Carly
Josh Duhamel – Lennox
John Turturro – Simmons
Alan Tudyk – Dutch
Tyrese Gibson – Epps
Patrick Dempsey – Dylan
Frances McDormand – Mearing
Kevin Dunn – Ron Witwicky
Julie White – Judy Witwicky
John Malkovich – Bruce Brazos
Ken Jeong – Jerry Wang
Glenn Marshower – General Marshower
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
Jess Harnell – Iron Hide (voice)
Robert Foxworth – Ratchet (voice)
James Remar – Sideswipe (voice)
Francesco Quinn – Dino (voice)
George Coe – Wheeljack (voice)
Tom Kenny – Que / Wheelie (voice)
Reno Wilson – Brains (voice)
Leonard Nimoy – Sentinel Prime (voice)
Hugo Weaving – Megatron (voice)
Charlie Adler – Starscream (voice)
Frank Welker – Soundwave / Shockwave (voice)
Keith Szarabajka – Laserbeak (voice)

Transformers: Age of Extinction Review

Transformers: Age of Extinction movie posterSynopsis
After the devastation of Chicago several years ago, Transformers are being hunted and have gone into hiding. Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) stumbles upon the dormant Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), causing Cade, Optimus, Cade’s daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), and Tessa’s boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) meet up with the remaining Autobots and go on the run from the CIA.

Review
I went into Transformers: Age of Extinction with what I wouldn’t call high hopes but some hope. It had a new cast and a fresh start. Unfortunately, it also had too long of a run time and no apparent sense of direction. Not only that, but the Dinobots, a large part of the marketing for the movie, only appeared at the tail end. I’m not going to be one of those fans that go on an angry rant, but I will say that it could have, and should have, been much better.

One of the positives about Transformers: Age of Extinction is that is does have some pretty funny lines and moments. Most of these are supplied by either TJ Miller or Stanley Tucci. Tucci is easily one of the best things about this film. His role is different than his other films like Easy A or The Hunger Games. It goes to show how versatile he can be. At times the humor felt a little forced, but overall it was pretty good.

Having Frank Welker voice Galvatron, the reincarnated Megatron, was a great nod towards fans, just like Peter Cullen supplying his voice for Optimus Prime. Cullen and Welker were the voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron/Galvatron respectively in the original 1980s The Transformers cartoon. Welker did a few voices in Dark of the Moon but I was happy to see him return to one of his original roles from the cartoon. Hugo Weaving was perfect for Megatron in the first three movies, but Welker needed to come in eventually and this was the perfect time to do it.

I was blown away by the special effects and computer generated images (CGI) of Transformers, and Age of Extinction takes that up a notch. All the character designs and models looked spectacular. Despite the chaotic nature of the fight sequences, it was much easier to follow than the first film. The final fight scene was especially impressive. My friend described it as much more fluid than before; It actually felt like a real fight rather than β€œPower Ranger Megazords fighting each other” (I think those were his words). I would have to say that is a pretty good analogy and I am inclined to agree with him.

Once the action really picked up, about 30-45 minutes into the movie, it literally never stopped. I don’t think there was more than a ten minute span where something wasn’t blowing up. Had this come out when I was younger, this would have been my favorite of the series for that reason alone. Action in action movies is great (it’s pretty much implied), but when that takes away from the characters, it becomes a little too much, especially when there is over two and a half hours of it.

Because of the huge focus on action and explosions, there was virtually no characterization. Any time it seemed like there was going to be some character development, like when Cade (Mark Wahlberg) and Optimus start discussing parenting, it cuts away and the action revsΒ  back up. We learn about the human characters a little (a lot about how Cade was going to protect his daughter), but hardly anything about the Transformers themselves. Since the only returning Autobots were Optimus and Bumblebee, I would have liked to learn about the new robots. I know it wasn’t a matter of time, because with 165 minutes, it could have happened.

For a movie whose advertising strongly showed the Dinobots, they hardly had any screen time. They only appeared for the final 20-ish minutes of the action (maybe more, I started to lose track of time) and acted more like a deus ex machina than anything else. And I was expecting a more epic showdown between Optimus and Grimlock, which was very anticlimactic. I would have almost preferred that their presence in the film was not teased at all and instead have it be a surprise when they showed up on screen. My attitude would have been more β€œWhaa? Dinobots? Awesome!” rather than β€œWhere are the Dinobots? That’s it?” Big difference.

Transformers: Age of Extinction suffers from too-man-villains syndrome. There is the main human villain, his head henchman, another human villain who is kind of but isn’t really a bad guy, the Transformers’ villain Lockdown, and Galvatron. The main focus was on Lockdown and Attinger (Kelsey Grammer), but unfortunately that meant Glavatron was pushed to the side and was hardly present. Attinger felt like your stereotypical comic villain, bordering on the corny side. I will say this though: Lockdown is a badass. He was a great adversary for the Autobots and different from the Decepticons from the previous films. As for Galvatron, I do like how they brought him into the series, it was the best way to introduce him without Unicron (a world-devouring being who transformed Megatron into Galvatron in the 1986 film The Transformers: The Movie).

I don’t know why, but I was expecting so much more from Transformers: Age of Extinction. The Dinobots, a huge part of the trailers and marketing in general, hardly have a presence in the film. Too many bad guys caused several villains to get only a few minutes of screen time. The human villain Harold Attinger, played by Kelsey Grammer, was pretty flat, but Lockdown, the big Transformers villain, was a badass. With a run time almost that of The Godfather, and non-stop action from the beginning, it was overwhelming. And even with that much time, there was virtually no character development. I understand the something like Transformers is supposed to be corny, but Transformers: Age of Extinction saw the line, flew over it and never looked back.

Rating
2/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Michael Bay – Director
Ehren Kruger – Writer
Steve Jablonsky – Composer

Mark Wahlberg – Cade Yeager
Nicola Peltz – Tessa Yeager
Jack Reynor – Shane Dyson
Stanley Tucci – Joshua Joyce
Kelsey Grammer – Harold Attinger
Titus Welliver – James Savoy
Sophia Myles – Darcy Tirrel
Bingbing Li – Su Yueming
TJ Miller – Lucas Flannery
James Bachman – Gill Wembley
Peter Cullen – Optimus Prime (voice)
John Goodman – Hound (voice)
Ken Watanabe – Drift (voice)
John DiMaggio – Crosshairs (voice)
Mark Ryan – Lockdown (voice)
Frank Welker – Galvatron (voice)
Reno Wilson – Brains (voice)

Transformers: Age of Extinction Trailer #2

Official Synopsis: As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his cross-hairs.

Optimus Prime riding Grimlock?Β  I’m sold.Β  There is a lot more action than the last trailer (and a lot less US flags).Β  Dark of the Moon was huge in terms of stakes, the whole world was in danger being enslaved after all.Β  Age of Extinction looks to try to keep the momentum going and offer a world wide threat yet again.Β  It’s different considering it is supposed to be the start of a new trilogy, but I guess Bay wanted to start over with a bang.Β  I really want to see who is on the ground fighting Optimus.Β  My guess is Megatron/Galvatron.Β  The good news is we won’t have to wait long to see the Dinobots finally hit the screen since it comes out in about a month.

Transformers: Age of Extinction explodes into theaters June 27, 2014.Β  With director Michael Bay returning, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Titus Welliver, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, Abigail Klein, TJ Miller, Jack Reynor, and Peter Cullen.

Transformers: Age of Extinction movie poster

Transformers: Age of Extinction Teaser Trailer

Official Synopsis: Earth is scarred by the events of the past three movies, but is moving on after all the giant robots disappeared. Cade Yeager, an inventor, discovers a buried Transformer which sets the stage for the return of the rest of the Transformers.

It seems a lot has changed since the end of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.Β  Right in the beginning there was a billboard urging people to report “alien activity” and a voice over from Stanley Tucci telling the Autobots (I’m assuming), that they aren’t needed anymore.Β  This will make an interesting dynamic for sure, especially when the Decepticons return.Β  It won’t be the same without Megatron.Β  They could bring him back as Galvatron, which happened in the cartoon.Β  I am not sure who the bad robot leading the the charge is.Β  Maybe that is Galvatron…Β  It’s going to be hard to top the stakes of the last film, but it looks like it is going to try.

I know many die-hard Transformers fans cried foul when Optimus Prime was a cab-over semi-truck rather than a flat face like the 1980s cartoon.Β  This time Bay is paying homage to his original look.Β  It looks like Optimus starts the movie in the original look and later goes back to a similar design to the other movies.

This is only a teaser (a long one, but apparently that’s what it is), but it gives a pretty good look at Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz as Cade Yeager and his daughter Tessa.Β  Titus Welliver and Stanley Tucci also get quite a bit of trailer time.Β  The other lead, Jack Reynor isn’t seen and neither is Kelsey Grammer, who has been cast as the antagonist.Β  If this is a “teaser” maybe they will show up in the next trailer.

Transformers: Age of Extinction hits theaters June 27, 2014.Β  With director Michael Bay returning, it stars Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Titus Welliver, Bingbing Li, Kelsey Grammer, Sophia Myles, Abigail Klein, TJ Miller, Jack Reynor, and Peter Cullen.

Transformers: Age of Extinction poster