Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
7.5 out of 10
Extras Rating:
N/A out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly
Kenneth Sheard as Epps Team 'Marc L'
Josh Duhamel as Lennox
John Turturro as Simmons
Tyrese Gibson as Epps
Patrick Dempsey as Dylan
Frances McDormand as Mearing
John Malkovich as Bruce Brazos
Kevin Dunn as Ron Witwicky
Julie White as Judy Witwicky
Alan Tudyk as Dutch
Ken Jeong as Jerry Wang
Glenn Morshower as General Morshower
Markiss McFadden as Lennox Team 'Baby Face'
Charles Adler as Starscream (voice)
Greg Berg as Igor (voice)
Ron Bottitta as Roadbuster / Amp (voice)
George Coe as Que / Wheeljack (voice)
Peter Cullen as Optimus Prime (voice)
John Di Maggio as Leadfoot / Target (voice)
Robert Foxworth as Ratchet (voice)
Jess Harnell as Ironhide (voice)
Tom Kenny as Wheelie (voice)
Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime (voice)
Francesco Quinn as Dino (voice)
James Remar as Sideswipe (voice)
Keith Szarabajka as Laserbeak (voice)
Hugo Weaving as Megatron (voice)
Frank Welker as Shockwave / Soundwave (voice)
Reno Wilson as Brains (voice)

Directed by Michael Bay

Special Features:
Digital Copy of the Film

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Sound
Portuguese, Spanish and French Subtitles
Portuguese, Spanish and French Language
Running Time: 154 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"A mysterious event from Earth's past threatens to ignite a war so big that the Transformers alone will not be able to save the planet. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and the Autobots must fight against the darkness to defend our world from the Decepticons all-consuming evil in the smash hit from director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg."

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is rated PG-13 for intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo.

The Blu-ray:
This Blu-ray has one major problem - there are no bonus features included on it. This was just a quick release issued to take advantage of the fans who will buy both this version and a special edition that comes along later. Now that's fine if you don't care about bonus features. You can just get the movie, the DVD copy, and the digital copy and be happy. But if you want more, you're out of luck for now. Let the buyer beware.

The Movie:
Let me give some background here I'm a big fan of the Transformers. I collected the toys and Marvel comics back in the '80s. I watched all of the cartoons religiously, even created my own Transformers comics, and I know all the words to "Dare," "The Touch" and "Dare to be Stupid." I thought the first "Transformers" movie had moments of true greatness mixed with some really awful, terrible moments. I thought the second movie was a great visual effects film if you wanted to see robots beating the crap out of each other, but overall it was so poorly executed that I actually wanted to walk out of the theater and I almost did. I've never walked out of a movie before. So I went into this movie cautiously optimistic.

I'm happy to report that I thought "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is the best of the "Transformers" movies. Now that bar is pretty low, but I felt like this movie addressed a lot of the problems I had with the first two films. Not all of the problems, but a lot of them. There are no robots peeing on people and no robots with giant balls. There is still a lot of yelling and screaming and overacting in comedy scenes, but it's dialed way back. There aren't any ghetto robot twins that will draw accusations of racism (though there is a pair of smaller robots that do fill that role). The plot is a bit more straightforward, too. The previous films jumped around so much it was a bit hard to follow. This is a bit easier to comprehend.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" introduces a few new characters. Leonard Nimoy returns to the Transformers universe as Sentinel Prime. (He was previously Galvatron in "Transformers: The Movie.") His voice fits the character well and the robot even looks like him to a degree. There's also a fun moment when he delivers a line that should be very familiar to his fans. Patrick Dempsey brings an interesting human element to the story as Dylan while Frances McDormand is also fun as the no-nonsense director Mearing. Then there is Alan Tudyk as Dutch and Ken Jeong as Jerry Wang. When both of these guys appeared on screen, I thought, "Oh boy, there goes the movie." Both of them are WAY over the top. But I have to admit, both of them made me laugh multiple times. They were the only real comic relief that I actually laughed at. I also have to say that I was quite impressed that the movie featured a cameo by the real Buzz Aldrin. I don't know how they got him, but it's nice to see him play along with the 'real reason' for the Apollo missions.

While I think this is the best of the "Transformers" movies, there's no question that this movie has some pretty big problems.

First off, too many of the characters from the previous films are shoehorned in. Sam's parents appear again and do absolutely nothing to advance the plot. John Turturro also returns again as Simmons and he's just as loud and obnoxious and annoying as he was in all of the other films. Further adding to the problems, there's too much comic relief in the movie. Between Sam's parents, Simmons, Dutch, Wang, and Sam's two refugee robots, you have seven characters that are in the movie for nothing more than comic relief. It's way too much. The movie has a running time of 2 and a half hours. It is about 30 minutes longer than it needs to be thanks mainly to so much screentime devoted to these characters' antics. If they just kept the clowning to Jeong and Tudyk, that would have been enough comedy.

Then you have Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly. She fills in for Megan Fox as the required Michael Bay eye candy. I never liked Megan Fox in the "Transformers" movies. I thought her performances were utterly wooden. In my opinion Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is better than Fox she's a slightly better actress (not a challenge) and she's just as attractive. My problem with her is that she's TOO good looking. When you pair her with Shia LaBeouf as Sam Witwicky, it just doesn't seem realistic. She seems just as computer generated as the robots when standing next to LaBeouf. They don't seem like a realistic couple at all. I would have liked to have seen an actress who was an 8 out of 10 with personality than a 10 out of 10 that has no chemistry with LaBeouf.

Another problem is that they make Optimus Prime kind of a jerk. He's always been a mix of John Wayne and Obi-Wan Kenobi, but in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" he loses some of his nobility. In one scene he's literally standing on bones of humans killed by the Decepticons and he basically tells Sam that the Autobots were holding back and not saving people so that humans would appreciate them. What?!? Then in another scene a robot pleads with Optimus not to kill him and he does it anyway. Did he deserve to be killed? Definitely. But the way the scene plays out, Bay trivializes death so that Prime can have a cool moment. For a lot of kids and fans, Prime is the epitome of everything that is good, so to see him handled like that shows a lack of respect for the character.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" also tramples on its own continuity. In this movie they make it sound like the existence of "Transformers" on planet Earth is a major secret. Yet in the first movie they rather publicly destroyed Hoover Dam and Los Angeles. In the second movie they destroyed several major cities and the pyramids. Now we're expected to believe the public isn't aware of the robots? It's a bit much to believe. We were also told in the first movie that Megatron was on Earth looking for the cube, yet this movie says he was here for another reason. It doesn't add up. There are other inconsistencies, but you get the idea.

Then let's get right down to it the plot of this movie isn't all that different from the first two. Sam Witwicky is having a personal crisis, he's thrown into the middle of the Autobot vs. Decepticon war, and ultimately he has to run through the middle of battling robots in slow motion to save the Earth... for a third time. Then there's the other plot that some sort of Transformer threat has been hidden on or near Earth for many years, it is uncovered, then the Autobots and Decepticons must fight in major cities and/or on major landmarks while promotional footage from the U.S. Armed Forces plays in slow motion amid sunsets. This is really the same movie done three times and wrapped in slightly different packages. Yet they all made a ton of money, so what do I know.

Finally, let's face the fact that this movie has two functions to sell movie tickets to people that want to see giant robots fighting and to sell toys to kids. For a movie that is partially aimed at kids, there's a lot of language in this. They say everything except their one allotted PG-13 'f**k,' and even then they almost say it in one scene. They needed to dial it back a bit. The cartoons built generations of fans by staying appropriate for kids. Hasbro should have exerted a little control over Bay and Paramount and toned it down.

For a big summer action flick, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" fits the bill. It is mindless action filled with impressive special effects. As long as you're not looking for more and set your expectations pretty low, you'll be entertained. But if you hated the first two movies, don't expect this one to win you over.

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