Sunday, January 29, 2023


June 29, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Reviews for Transformers: Dark of the Moon read like, well, reviews for the other Transformers movies: that is, they’re replete with complaints about a senseless plot, senseless mayhem, and senselessness in general. But a couple of reviewers make the point that that’s the whole point of a Transformers movie. As Betsy Sharkey observes in her review in the Los Angeles Times: “You don’t go to Transformers for the character or the plot, you go for metal-crushing, sensory-overloading action. Between [director Michael] Bay’s obsession to make his 3D matter and the artistry of the special effects legions amassed for the project, the visual payoff is striking. The individual character articulation is so finely rendered we can see the complexity of the robots’ construction as they morph from the ordinary — car, plane or whatever — into their towering mechanized essence.” Her review is far from a total rave, however. She complains that the action scenes go on for too long. “For anyone who makes it through to the bitter end, I think certificates of completion are in order,” she concludes. A couple of reviews lampoon the movie with such subtlety that the review website Rotten Tomatoes seems not to be able to determine whether their reviews are positive (red tomato) or negative (a splattered green tomato). They err on the side of the red. For example, here’s A.O. Scott’s opening shot in the New York Times: “There are filmmakers whose work is characterized by thrift, efficiency and devotion to the subtleties of cinematic expression. And then there is Michael Bay, whose films are symphonies of excess and redundancy, taking place in a universe full of fire and metal and purged of nuance. I’m not judging, just describing, and since today’s theme is bluntness, I might as well come out and say that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is among Mr. Bay’s best movies and by far the best 3D sequel ever made about gigantic toys from outer space.” Rotten Tomatoes bestows a red tomato on that review. It also dispenses one to Roger Moore’s in the Orlando Sentinel, who does indeed begin his review by remarking that the movie “delivers the popcorn in gigantic fist-fulls of fun,” a line that may soon pop up in ads for the movie. But he then goes on to pummel it for the rest of his review, concluding by expressing the hope “that we’ve seen the last of the Transformers.” Early buzz was that this was the best of the Transformers movies. But Peter Howell in the Toronto Star comments: “Picking the ‘best’ of the three Transformers movies is like choosing death by firing squad, shark mauling or being crushed by one of Wile E. Coyote’s giant anvils. On reflection, I’d choose the anvil drop, which is what the last 45 minutes of Transformers: Dark of the Moon feels like.” Amy Biancolli admits in the Houston Chronicle that she happens to be “one of three or four people in the English-speaking world who like[d] the last Transformers sequel. … Ever since, I’ve been informed by irate readers that I am a bonehead. Who knows? maybe I am. One’s opinions do evolve.” You’ll find a lot of other dismissive digs at the movie from the critics. “We’re calling it Toy Story 3 at my house,” Wesley Morris writes in the Boston Globe. But there is little that is subtle about most of the critics’ reviews: they hate it. Indeed, the veteran Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert writes, “It provided me with one of the more unpleasant experiences I’ve had at the movies.” (As for those reports that Bay ordered special digital prints of the movie dispatched to theaters that would supposedly brighten up the 3D screens, Ebert remarks, “In my screening, it was as dim as usual.” And Lou Lumenick calls Bay’s assertion, “hooey, hooey and more hooey.”) Ebert’s fellow Chicagoan (the film’s climactic scenes take place in Chicago), Michael Phillips of the Tribune, calls the movie “a work of ineffable soullessness and persistent moral idiocy.” And Elizabeth Weitzman concludes in the New York Daily News: “If this movie is an accurate reflection of human culture, it’s hard to believe the Autobots would risk everything to save us.”