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TRANSFORMERS 3, 2011
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TRANSFORMERS 3, 2011 MOVIETRANSFORMERS 3, 2011
Movie Reviews

Director: Michael Bay

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Patrick Dempsey

Review by Mark Engberg

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SYNOPSIS:

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets, which could turn the tide in the Transformers' final battle. Against the backdrop of the space race between the U.S.S.R. and the USA, the alliance between Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) and Optimus Prime is put to the test against a common enemy: Shockwave.

REVIEW:

Before we get into it, I would like to open the floor and directly ask you, Good Reader, the following question: Who is the Worst Director of All-Time?

Keep in mind that a studio film director is in charge of their movie’s artistic elements while orchestrating the technical aspects of the production crew. Therefore, the most effective directors know how to handle the people in front of the camera as well as they can coordinate the machinery behind it. Essentially, it is their job to translate the plot exposition created by the screenwriter into an engaging and entertaining narrative.

While Ed Wood has been described as the Steven Spielberg of bad filmmaking, it is this reviewer’s opinion that Michael Bay has descended unto a level of cinematic “storytelling” that is even more unholy and god-awful than the cross-dressing Wood could have ever imagined. Bay’s undeniable failure of telling his audiences a coherent story that is not super-saturated in shapeless and indiscernible violence could be forgivable if the man had any talent for composing interactive human drama.

Alas, he is as hopeless at working with real live humans as he is with computer-generated robots. It is like watching two bad movies at the same time.

In describing the tone behind “Dark of the Moon”, Bay’s first-ever threequel, he called it “a homeland version of ‘Black Hawk Down’ with giant alien robots.” And if I were Ridley Scott, I would call Bay’s agent and demand an immediate apology and promise to never again mention any of my movies while promoting his.

If the film were in any way geared towards an appropriate demographic (kids, for example), the corniness of the dialogue and incomprehensible plotline could, by parental mercy, be overlooked. You could say, “Yeah, I saw the third Transformers movie. Didn’t understand a word of it. It gave me a headache. But my kids loved it.”

The problem is that your kids shouldn’t like this movie. They shouldn’t even go to it. Borrowing on exhausted stereotypes now from every minority, the Autobots and Decepticons are depicted as annoyingly racist garbage-mouths who boast crude language as tastelessly and humorlessly as their weakly developed human counterparts.

Since the majority of rubberized dialogue is inappropriate for children under thirteen, the identity of his target audience remains elusive. Kids should find it offensive. Adults should find it stupid. Presumably, the answer must be that sacred age group caught in the middle: the conflicted teenager in all of his confused glory and disposable income. They are too young to know that the Transformers were once a beloved line of contortionist toys introduced by Hasbro in the early 1980’s.

And on behalf of the age group that previously enjoyed this franchise, whether it was in its toy, comic book, or animated form, let me suggest that we stop wearing these unconvincing smiles of phony acceptance and finally declare that the “Transformers” movies completely suck.

After a fairly entertaining opening sequence surmising that the Apollo moon landings were motivated by a UFO crash landing that was kept on the down-low by National Security, human hero Sam Witwicky takes the initiative to . . . oh, who am I kidding? If you have seen the previous two “Transformers” movies, you know as well as I that the storyline is a convoluted mess of robotic jargon and juvenile, delinquent chatter.

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An alien MacGuffin is once again employed to somehow motivate the Autobots upon their endless war against the ravaging Decepticons. Even with the entire might of the United States Armed Forces and Homeland Security on the side of the Autobots, it is up to young Sam (Shia LaBeouf, who is systematically desecrating my childhood) to help his transforming friends reach the moon spacecraft first. Apparently, this means he must do a whole lot of yelling.

Ridiculous supporting characters played by graceful and worthy actors (Frances McDormand and John Malkovich!) are wheeled onto the set only to be yanked away from the story entirely, suggesting that their inclusions are overly whimsical and completely irrelevant. Kevin Dunn and Julie White reprise their unrealistic roles as Sam’s parents, Ron and Judy, for no reason whatsoever in regards to the overall story structure.

And Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is probably already running back to the catwalk due to early criticisms about her newly developed “acting” abilities. Yes, her portrayal of Sam’s new girlfriend Carly is laughable and absurd. But to single her out for this apocalyptic mess would be like trying to blame Watergate solely on H. R. Haldeman. Let’s get back to the Richard Nixon responsible for this travesty.

Through the years, Bay has apparently learned nothing about the importance of skillful editing or fundamental choreography of action. Watching one of his action sequences is like listening to a six-year-old make up a story as he goes along. None of the action reflects the slightest interest or focus on strategy.

There are enough missiles fired and bullets shot into the air to make Afghanistan look like a playground. Explosions, gunshots, more clips of Shia yelling, someone goes flying through the air, a robot beheads another robot, was it a good robot or a bad robot? Doesn’t matter, because we’re on to the next explosion. More gunshots. More shots of Shia yelling. Now he’s yelling while flying through the air. More explosions. And how is it possible for rocks to burst into flame like that?

Bay and his obedient team of production yes-men appear to have put a ton of effort towards making these battle sequences appear dramatic and realistic. But despite their best efforts, these scenes are exhausting instead of interesting. No matter how many buildings are destroyed or bodies are blown into the atmosphere, there is no emphatic impact felt by the audience members, who are mercilessly held hostage to watch this entire debacle at a punishing 153 minutes.

The first two installments of this doomed series were at least tolerable due to the fact that we got to watch Megan Fox handle the hideous dialogue and improbable storyline with her trademark seduction. His failure to acknowledge his female star’s power and importance in this over hyped franchise is still yet greater evidence of Michael Bay’s inability to competently undertake the role of a film director.

According to LaBeouf, his former co-star compared the trendy mullet-headed director to Hitler because she “never got comfortable” with Bay’s style of filming “women in a way that appeals to 16-year-old sexuality.” LaBeouf also said, “When Mike would ask her to do specific things, there was no time for fluffy talk. We’re on the run. And the one thing Mike lacks is tact.”

Well, you’re wrong a couple of times there, Shia. There is plenty of fluffy talk. It’s all over the script. Maybe you couldn’t hear it over the horrendously cheesy music on the soundtrack (at times, the movie feels like an afterschool episode of “Dawson’s Creek”). And Michael Bay does not lack one thing; they are several. The ability to direct his young actors to portray believable characters with developing story arcs is only one of them.

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TRANSFORMERS 3