Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Concept: 1 out of 5
Execution: 0 out of 5
Yeah, but: It makes Ed Wood's body of "work" look like William Shakespeare

The Long Version: Let's get the important part out of the way first. From its release on 29 June 2011 to 29 September 2011, "Dark of the Moon" has grossed $1.18 billion worldwide to become
  • the fifth highest-grossing film of all time, 
  • the second highest grossing film of 2011 (behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2), 
  • the highest grossing film in the Transformers series.
With a $198 million budget it grossed five times its production costs, which means it's a success. It will, in all likelihood, spawn yet another Transformer sequel. Heaven help us all.

I like my science fiction films one of two ways; either hard-core and fact-based, or good and trashy. For examples of enjoyable hard core I point to 1951's "The Day the Earth Stood Still", 1956's "Forbidden Planet", or 1968's "2001: A Space Odyssey". Good and trashy films, like "The Evil Dead", are minimally financed fun little movies with no pretensions, bad in a good way, fun to watch because you can see through the cheesy effects and the plot holes, but you don't care. There's a certain earnestness and honesty in those types of films. That's why I can watch "Plan 9 From Outer Space" repeatedly and find enjoyment each and every time. Especially in a group setting.

I didn't see "Dark of the Moon" when it was in the theaters because I was very busy. I felt no motivation to make the time because I've come to loathe the cineplex experience. Going to the movies now is like airline travel, but without the TSA. The few fixed times you can see a movie, the commute through traffic, finding a place to park, standing in line for expensive tickets, paying exorbitant soda and popcorn prices, then sitting through a good half-hour of ads and previews before the movie, the rude and noisy theater patrons, and on and on and on make a trip to the cineplex almost as bad as a trip to the airport. It's a far cheaper, far better experience to wait and watch a movie on Blu-ray (even a bad movie) in the comfort of your own home. That's why I waited to pick "Dark of the Moon" up at the local Walmart while grocery shopping this weekend. If the movie turned out to be truly bad, well, at least I was doing something useful besides just picking up a bad movie.

When I'm at home I might get to sit through an entire movie uninterrupted. Most of the time I don't, and this time was blessedly no exception. Watching "Dark of the Moon", at 2 hours and 34 minutes total length, took me over three hours in real time. That's because I needed to make the occasional stop, sometimes just to let my brain rest between the too-long pitilessly plotless and confusing stretches of the movie punctuated by the short chaotic sections of hyper-violent noise and action. I've sat through many long movies, some longer, but I've never had the need to just shut a movie down for a mental rest break. Even "2001", one of the most cryptic movies every made, seemed like a Pixar short compared to "Dark", and it clocks in at 2 hours 21 minutes.

Normally I'd write multiple paragraphs about the special effects, but not this time. Industrial Light and Magic, the effects house for "Dark", managed to render a world that looks overly complicated, muddy and just downright fake. It's difficult to see critical detail on the Transformer's, such as Sentinel Prime's face (voiced by Leonard Nimoy). The desire by the film's creators to overlay as much GCI action onto the live action locations (such as Chicago) makes it nigh impossible to accurately track the action, let alone sit back and enjoy the action. This is, in my opinion, ILM's worst work to date.

After re-reading the last five paragraphs I've come to realize there's nothing positive I can say about the film, so I'll just stop. I can't return the Blu-ray because of the store policy that says once the shrink-wrap is broken, I own the disc. But all is not lost; I can take it to a local Movie Stop and trade it for something else. That's probably the only good thing about this movie, and that is it'll go towards the purchase of something better to watch.

last updated 2 oct 2011


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