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Movie Review – Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D

June 29, 2011


Admittedly, I do not fit the demographic that Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D is aiming for. I’m not a 14-17 year old boy and while I did grow up watching the Transformers cartoon series, it carries far less nostalgia value for me than it does for my younger brother (or my husband, who are 32 and 33, respectively). I should also mention – just so you know where I stand – I didn’t care much for the first Transformers film and my feelings for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen range somewhere between complete indifference to outright hostility.

Having said that, it will not surprise you to learn that I did not enjoy the third installment of the Hasbro Toy-based, Michael Bay-directed film franchise.

In a nutshell, I found T:DotM 3D to be a bloated, boring, over-long – albeit glossy – mess. A bombardment of visual spectacle so slick, the experience of watching it felt like enduring a 2 and a half hour commercial for cars, lipgloss and C4. The film seems to operate on just two, broad levels -  vacillating between fatigue-inducing (and often unnecessary) exposition and balls-out, action sequences (which are occasionally peppered with ramped down slow-mo and melodramatic musical accompaniment) that are so relentless, they actually caused my brain to shut down from sensory overload. I’m not sure how you go about making something thrilling – like say,  a battle between an alien race of robots – and render it dull, but there I was, bored and praying for a merciful end.

But what was the film about, you may be asking? I will do my best to break it down, but it won’t be easy. T:DotM 3D begins with a robot battle between the Decepticons and Autobots – during which a robot-driven ship crashes on the Earth’s moon. Apparently this happened in 1961, because President Kennedy is informed of this crash by NASA and he wants to haul ass to the moon post haste before the Soviets are able to reach it and get their hands on the alien technology…or something. This lengthy set up is followed by a re-enactment of the 1969, Apollo 11 Lunar Landing – replete with Forest Gump-ian special effects featuring archival footage of Presidents Kennedy and Nixon – to establish a fictional explanation for the historical event.

We are soon introduced to Sam Witwicky’s new girlfriend’s ass new girlfriend, Carly ( Not Megan Fox Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and re-acquainted with Sam himself (played by Shia LaBeouf) – an unemployed, college graduate with a strong sense of self-entitlement and an inexplicable gift for wooing ridiculously hot women. Sam finds the prospect of job-hunting to be a lackluster endeavor – he’s a hero, having saved the world (THE WORLD!) twice now – though he soldiers on to earn the respect of Carly, who is extremely gainfully employed as the curator for Dr. Dreamy’s (Patrick Dempsey) car collection.

Sam Witwicky’s parents show up for no real reason while Sam suffers through countless job interviews for work which is beneath a hero such as himself, before landing a position as John Malkovich’s (John Malkovich) mail-runner. During his brief employ, Sam is approached by fellow employee Mr. Wang (Ken Jeong) who recognizes him (he’s a HERO!) and attempts to warn him – in a strangely violent way, about something or other, evil robots probably – in the men’s restroom, resulting in a knee-slapping scene which leaves Mr. Wang sweaty, pants-less and ruffled, appearing to have engaged in a passionate tryst with Mr. Witwicky because Michael Bay has yet to meet a stereotype or homophobic joke that he didn’t find hilarious.

And here is where I can no longer break things down in a sensible way. The rest of the film unfolds in a series of car chases and fight scenes and clandestine military meetings. This is followed by robot fights and running and explosions and fire and slo-mo and robots having heart-to-hearts about the survival of their race. We are also treated to a round of romantic misunderstandings and parental advice/humor – followed by even more running, fighting, ill-conceived rescue missions, the intricacies of alien robot politics and subsequent betrayal, white outfits, more explosions, architectural damage and swelling, orchestral music set to images of burning things. It goes on and on like this and I swear to god, I just saw the thing last night and I don’t remember what it was actually about.

The newest Transformers film does feature some impressive CGI, but the onslaught of special effects and extravagant action sequences nullifies their potency – which sort of explains how I feel about the entire film. Anything enjoyable that could be mined from viewing it gets smothered by it’s own excess – it was too much – and too much of anything (whether good or bad) is just bad.


{I did make a number of observations – which are probably interesting only to me – that you can read here:

- Robots are machines and as such have no use for capes.

- They also don’t need beards or any other simulacrum of facial hair.

- In Michael Bay’s films, there are only two kinds of women:  pin-ups or punchlines.

- Carly’s penchant  for wearing a shit-ton of make up is rivaled only by her love for white clothing. Her commitment to wearing white is so steadfast and true that even after being kidnapped, she still has a stash of like, three more white outfits to change into – none of which are ever soiled, even during epic robot battles.

- Robot fights should never be boring.}






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8 Responses to “ Movie Review – Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D ”

  1. CD on June 29, 2011 at 7:36 am

    in my opinion, the only real reasons women dont like the transfomers series is A:Its not a cheesy romantic chick-flick. B: they find the starring women(Fox and Huntington-Whitely)in it more attractive then they are so right away they dismiss the movie. C: It has fighting D: There’s “no story”. OK first off its a series based off a cartoon. Its not fucking based off a ship in the early 1900s that sank with two lovers on it. Its a movie based off a cartoon series that was about robots, fighting, and more fighting. There isnt supposed to be anything more to it! i mean really. if you go in expecting some nice story, an occasional fight or two, and then a big kiss at the end between the two stars then you must be a lame critic. Take the movie for what it is and not for what “standards” it needs to follow.

  2. Greg on June 29, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I’m 75% sure that the above comment is a joke. Just because it’s based off a cartoon and has giant robots in it doesn’t give it the right to be shitty. Cartoon based movies about giant fighting robots still have to have plots that makes sense. Having an opinion of ‘take it for what it is’ is a hell of a lot worse than the reasons you give for women not liking this movie. Transformers 3 is garbage. Plain and simple. It’s not even fun to watch. Also, take your sexist comments and go fuck yourself CD.

  3. Travis on June 29, 2011 at 9:06 am

    It is a testament to Ms. Pancake’s awesomeness that: A) She watched all three Transformers movies despite sensing that they would not provide much satisfaction, B) She frequently posts pictures of beautiful women on her blog because as a beautiful woman herself, she’s sort of an expert on the subject–and far from jealous, and C) She allowed CD’s comment to be posted despite the fact that he is clearly a festering douchebag.

    Great review Janey! One of your best ever. Keep up the good work, and keep being you. We love you!

  4. AJ on June 29, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Great writeup, Jane. I haven’t seen the third movie yet but I’m sure I’ll get the chance soon. Among other things, I’m saddened to learn that Ken Jeong’s typecasting continues.

    Just perusing through my movie collection here for some examples: Alien[s], Constantine, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Fifth Element, Avatar, The Matrix, Gone in 60 Seconds, Kill Bill, Underworld, V for Vendetta, X-Men series… and many more, are all examples of action movies that were A) not cheesy romantic chick flicks, B) had attractive women stars or co-stars, C) had fighting, and for the most part had D) entertaining stories. All of these ingredients can make a tasty treat, just not by the hand of Michael Bay, or Johnny Woo for that matter. There’s no reason women need to be portrayed as helpless dames. If anything, it makes them less attractive to guys like me despite their great looks.

  5. Jason on June 29, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    It’s funny how, as an 18 year old guy who liked the first two movies, critiques such as yours make me more sure that I’m going to like it because every other Michael Bay movie was hated by “critics”, yet I loved them. Critics these days just don’t seem able to enjoy an action-based movie for what it is without saying that it destroys their senses.

    I don’t applaud you, but I thank you for ironically reaffirming my first hypothesis.

  6. Jane on June 29, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Dear CD, I don’t generally respond to comments because I understand that opinion is subjective and I am completely at peace with the knowledge that you and I have so little in common (save for our mutual dislike of romantic comedies, of course).

    I would like to clarify that I am not opposed to action films (be they based on a cartoon series, graphic novels, or even a Hasbro toy line) when they are done well, I enjoy them very much. I will add that I quite like beautiful women too (when done well, I enjoy them very much – get it? UGH). What I don’t care for, CD, if I may echo Greg’s comment – are shitty films…and Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D happens to be one of the shittiest I have ever laid eyes upon.

    PS Greg, Travis and AJ thank you for your comments and for taking the time to read my review!

  7. Jeff Lee on June 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Greetings, Jane,

    Wow, thanks for the great first-hand movie review on the long awaited Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon. I do agree with you that Transformers do give some of us nostalgia value as most of us watched the cartoons since we were kids. Let it be Transformers Generation 1, Head-on Master, Cybertron/Galaxy Force, Armada, Energon, Beastwars, Beast Machines, Robot in Disguise, Animated, just to name a few… the movie series are like a dream comes true in reality, with gigantic robots transformable into super cars living among us, protecting the humankind…

    It’s disheartening to hear that T3 is just another bloated, boring, over-long – albeit glossy – mess. I was hoping Mr. M.Bay would do better after the T2 ROTF :(

    Anyway, i’d still queue for the movie, just to complete this last of the 3-series movies. Hopefully i’d not get so much disappointed and shut down my brain as you did, LOL.

    Cheers and thanks again for the effort in the writeup
    jeff, Malaysia

  8. Glee on July 1, 2011 at 5:49 am

    Hi Jane,
    I don’t know which I enjoy more, your movie reviews or the “lively” comments that the reviews evoke. While there are many movie genre that I don’t particularly enjoy, if the script is well written and the “story” connects with the action scenes, I can appreciate it for what it is. Action for the sake of action leaves me unsatisfied. While I also feel that people are entitled to their opinions, I have a hard time listening to people who defend their ideas by attacking others (in this case – women). Travis said it very well – keep up the good work and we love you.