Film Review: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

***1/2 OUT OF 4

Director Michael Bay’s third installment in the Transformers franchise is a spectacular 3-D tent pole, fan boy movie which easily trumps the first two iterations. This time, unlike “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” the storyline, is clear and understandable.

The tale told is of two rival extraterrestrial fighting machines attempting to control the earth and its solar system.  One of the robot forces stands for freedom and justice and is called the Autobots and they go up against the evil, autocratic and dictatorial Decepticons. A new giant Decepticon making its first appearance is called Shockwave.This new robot can destroy a cityscape effortlessly and one of its primary tools is an arm mounted energy canon, which is fed by reactor cores on its back. Also new to this edition   is eye candy in the form of British model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, replacing the politically inept Megan Fox whose criticism of Mr. Bay cost her a role in this film.

Early on the story introduces us to revisionist history in which John F Kennedy pushed for a lunar landing to save a site where a gigantic Autobot vessel had crashed on the dark side of the moon after a war on Cybertron.  Making an amusing appearance is the real astronaut Buzz Aldrin confirming that the moon walk was only a small part of the story of the Autobot-Decepticon battle.

Meanwhile, script writer Ehren Kruger (who joined the franchise in the last episode) brings back to fore the young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, more assured of himself than ever) into battle against the Decepticons.  Currently jobless in Washington, D.C., living with the alluring. Carly (Huntington-Whiteley), and temporarily abandoned by Bumblebee, who’s off on exciting Autobot missions, Sam enters  the war on terrorism    and soon encounters national intelligence director Charlotte Mearing (Frances McDormand, who first  perceives Sam as a kid with a big mouth). Mearing in turn has a run in with Optimus Prime.

All of this sets up some of the most exciting 3-D third act battle footage ever shot with an hour long sequence in downtown Chicago which is kinetic and explosive.  Adding to the production value are cameos by such outstanding thespians as John Turturro, John Malkovich and Ken Jeong. Bay pulls out all stops to mesmerize his audience including Special Forces parachutists sent to counterattack Decepticons by BASE jumping from tall buildings. The production notes stated that one jumper even had a small 3-D camera attached to his head.

It all amounts to an exciting if intellectually empty summer film which should tear up the box office.  Michael Bay is a Billionaire Filmmaker who once again delivers his unique brand of entertainment.

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