Some films are poor. Some films are weak. Some films are terrible. Some films are atrocious. Then there is Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Before I list the reasons why this film is so utterly appalling, let me list the positives first: The 8 minutes sequence where a skyscraper topples over is outstanding and one of the best sequences director Michael Bay has delivered in his career to date.
That leaves 150 minutes of some of the worst cinema I’ve seen since… the last Transformers film.
When a film is packed with two and a half hours of unadulterated trash, it can be hard to know where to begin as each scene becomes a new low for all involved - including us, the audience. People will talk about the special effects and the 3D sequences as being the film’s saving grace and the reason why it’s not all bad. But praising a $200 million movie for having great effects and production is like praising a Formula One car for being fast - isn’t that the bare minimum you would expect? Effects and CGI and sets should compliment the film making process and not just ‘be’ the film.
Moreover, are these new effects much better than they were in 2007 when the first film came out? I defy you to tell me which film is which just by looking at still image of one of the robots. Never has a trilogy been as empty and as redundant as the Transformers series.
The ‘script’ by Ehren Kruger should be banned under the Obscene Publications Act because it is insulting to any mature audience. I understand that blockbusters aren’t always the most complex of ideas, but they need not be as stupid and as dumb as this. The ‘humour’ is homophobic, sexist, misogynistic, and vile. I can’t decide if the lowest moment came when Sam’s mother alludes to the size of her son’s manhood, or whether the award goes to a robot uttering the phrase ‘clusterfuck’, with the swearword itself being cut away for a cheap, nasty laugh.
The ‘humour’ in this film makes The Hangover: Part II look like the work of Billy Wilder or Woody Allen at their peak.
Megan Fox, the girlfriend of Sam from the previous two films is gone and replaced by Victoria’s Secret Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Simply put, this is the worst on-screen performance I have ever seen from an actor, male or female. The problem doesn’t lie in that she is a model, because Cameron Diaz and Charlize Theron were models before they became actors, but in the fact that SHE CANNOT ACT. Why was she cast in the role when there are countless other beautiful young women who could do a significantly better job?
Perhaps it’s because the likes of Amber Heard or Teresa Palmer saw a script that was so dire, they steered well clear. Or maybe even they didn’t want Michael Bay just pointing a camera at the arse and shouting ‘action!’. Does he have such a low opinion of his audience that he feels the need the constantly hammer home the fact that Whitely is an attractive woman? Can we not fathom that for ourselves? Apparently not.
You may or may not know the Bay began his career making adverts, some of which were for Victoria’s Secret, and his style employed there is perfectly fine. But to bring that same approach to, what is essentially a family film rated 12A, is plain vulgarity. Whiteley is no different to the cars or explosions to Bay - just something to ‘wow’ the audience every so often.
Shia LaBeouf puts in a cringingly bad performance as Sam, the one character you make have actually cared about in the first two films. At least LaBeouf isn’t an award-winning actor - I have no idea what excuses John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, John Turturro, and Patrick Demsey could give. Surely they don’t need the money at this stage in their careers? A stain on the CV of them all.
The final hour is a pretty much a carbon-copy of the first film, where a major city (this time Chicago, for no apparent reason) gets destroyed. A hour of non-stop noise, explosions, and ever-decreasing reasons for any of it to be happening. The problem is, for me, the levels of violence in which the Transformers series seem to relish in delivering. This is supposed to be a light family affair, yet the robots have guns and knives and massacre each other, sometimes at point blank execution-style. Throats are slit and red liquid, or robot ‘blood’, is sprayed out in slow motion for the viewer’s pleasure. What viewer got pleasure from seeing that, I couldn’t say.
The final hour must have been a nightmare to edit, because in its relentlessness the over-riding thought in my mind was that nothing is making sense, even for nonsense like this. Scenes just begin without any hint of a reason or warning, and characters pop up without serving the plot or story, and the whole thing just serves as a ‘what not to do’ for aspiring film makers.
Two camera angles stood out in my mind when I endured the screening. Firstly, Bay briefly switches to a ‘first-person shoot ‘em up’ angle where ‘we’ are the soldier shooting the gun. Yet this last for only a few moments, and never occurs again. It is a very distracting shot, almost as if it were from another film or B-footage.
If any shot were to sum up the visual incompetence of Bay’s recent career, it must be the scene where Sam gets a bottle of milk from his fridge. When Sam closes the fridge door, Bay INEXPLICABLY cuts to a low angle of the door closing, and then returns to the former angle. A character can’t even close a fridge door in this film without Bay getting irritable and bored.
Michael Bay is notorious for loud, flashy action films. Yet with all that experience, with all the talent he has worked with, and all the hundreds of millions worth of dollars he has had at his disposal, Bay has made just one good film in The Rock.
The rest range from average (Bad Boys) to end-of-cinema-as-we-know-it bad (the Transformers series). Yet here is a man who does not learn his lesson. And why is that? It is because he has never been punished for the offensive trash he has made.
As long as the films take money (and this will take a hell of a lot of money), he won’t care.
I used to like Bay all those years ago when he was making Bad Boys, The rock, and, to a lesser extent, Armageddon. But why he felt the need to incorporate such vile and degrading humour and sequences into his films is beyond me. Bay brought a great energy and visual style to action cinema in the mid 90’s, but all that changed and he has become one of the most despised directors amongst critics and intelligent movie goers.
This is the very worst Hollywood has to offer, and I hope executive producer Steven Spielberg does not put his name against such trash as this ever again. For shame, Steven. For shame.
VERDICT: 1 OUT OF 10 - The sole point is for the afore-mentioned toppling skyscraper scene. Nothing else is worthy of praise.