It’s a sure-to-win concept: Giant robots bashing seven shades of oil out of one another. Well, bust this: How about Giant Robots executing each other in the streets gang-land style. Yeeeaaahhhh boyeeeee!!!
From the man the term “Bayhem” was made, it’s the above that is the double-edged sword of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Jury’s out whether it’s better than the first although it certainly doesn’t have it’s charm. Rest easy; it’s a shite-sight better than 2 and not a robot testicle in sight!
Although, it may not be the best screenplay in the world, it does a fair job of tying in the space race and our solar systems original welcoming of Cybertronian refugees. At one point it even ties in the Chernobyl disaster to the debacle. Characters are shamefully underused (i.e. Malkovich), while others unnecessary (i.e. Sam’s Moms and Pops). However, you don’t pay your cash-monies for Oscar worthy monologues when you’re looking at the poster of Optimus holding a mighty axe. And it’s here the movie really does pay off.
What’s great(er) this time around is that the robots aren’t just a means of getting from set-piece to set-piece in order to have giant robot scraps – although fret not; you get these in spades. Here they actually get a lot more to do and, more often than not, actually act. Without spoiling anything, if you’re not able to really care rather than revere the Autobots, then come the second act it’s all going to come crashing down. Trust us…you do care. So much so, there’ll come a few points where you’ll feel The Bayhem is lining up cherished childhood memories and shooting them before your very eyes. Having the robots do a lot more heavy lifting means Sam is less of an anchor in this one, but the fact he’s already established and, to be honest, spends the first act being a moan because he’s saved the world and doesn’t want a job like the rest of us, it’s no great shakes he’s relegated a tad.
However, the dizzying heights of desperation the movie reaches really raise the stakes. It also means that each and every Giant Robot fight(TM) could result in all being lost. Add this to more threatening and smarter bad guys, you got yourself a robot war to root for! Bee, this time, gets a scrap only a few petrol gauges off Prime’s woodland-smack-down in Transformers 2, while Prime gets to fly around the skyline smoking baddies left, right and center. The slow build of threats still pays off, even amongst the smorgasbord of narrative threads. Shockwave is particular example of this, resulting in the award going to nastiest Decepticon…ever!
Prepare yourself though; bay still can’t help himself. Even though the fight is taken to Chicago, it still seems draped in LA sun, orange filters and over-acted speeches. There’s heroic back-slapping around almost every corner of a set piece and the overly prescribed music sometimes threatens to rip the genuine drama out of a situation. Gladly, the racial stereotypes have gone, but are replaced with two gremlin-like concoctions that the movie would be no worse off without.
That being said, these are small gripes. The bang for your buck scales are tipped in the audience’s favour and it’s a genuine thrill ride.
Robots. Fights. Street fights. Guns. Robot Gang-Style Executions and Decepticon world invasion.
Don’t mind if I do!
3* - Dark of the Boom!