The Austin Chronicle

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Rated PG-13, 154 min. Directed by Michael Bay. Voices by Hugo Weaving, Leonard Nimoy. Starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Kevin Dunn.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 1, 2011

Former film director Michael Bay isn't known for his subtlety, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon has about as much of it as a phased-plasma rifle to the back of the head. I say "former" because this third robot-jocks outing completes the Sturm-und-Drang auteur's transmogrification from helmer of cheeseball summer explodathons to sentient, machinelike (with product placement from Northrop Grumman of all iconic, hawkish institutions) perfectionist gone haywire. If Transformers was big, loud, and dumb, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was big, loud, dumb, and as frenzied as the third day of a bathtub-crank binge, then Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the biggest, loudest, and dumbest of them all. And, surprise, it's freaking epic and massive fun. Low expectations have rarely paid off as well as they do with this lumbering behemoth of a popcorn, sci-fi actioner. This time out, the script (by Ehren Kruger) actually makes a modicum of sense and lends itself to audience-satisfying ease-of-awesomeness, complete with a 50-minute final battle to end all battles that lays waste to virtually all of Chicago in what is surely the most impressive use of 3-D CGI since James Cameron's Avatar. No mean feat, that. Picking up where its predecessor left off, Dark of the Moon returns us to a world where the Autobots, the peace- and freedom-loving alien robots (the primary-colored good guys), are working alongside the U.S. military, blowing up illegal Iranian nuclear plants and so forth. They're also simultaneously scouring the globe for any sign of their archnemeses, the Decepticons, who are haters of liberty and justice and “absconders of the bomp, late of the bompalompalomp,” or something like it. Caught in the middle as ever is young(-ish) Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf). Sam is also contending with girlfriend-related jealousy issues and an insane new boss (played, in an inspired bit of casting and with giddy dementia by John Malkovich). Add to this the fact that the Apollo 11 mission was not what it seemed, a cameo by astronaut Buzz Aldrin (!), Leonard Nimoy voicing the Spock-quoting, top-dog Autobot Sentinel Prime, and a pair of Coen brothers regulars (McDormand and Turturro), and you end up with a ridiculous and ridiculously fun 154 minutes of utterly unhinged, completely over-the-top robotic mayhem. And with a moral, no less. Pass the popcorn, dude; this shit rocks.

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