Pre-release, director Michael Bay confirmed he had learned his lesson from episode 2. This third film was filmed from the ground up in 3D, we were told we would enjoy a decent story and a more mature structured film. All of the above, whilst retaining all the fun, explosions, soft and car porn a fourteen year old boy could want or at least wish to handle.
Has he succeeded?
The movie from a technical point of view is a tour de force. The 3D effects are fantastic, the set pieces colossal, see the previous 11 and raise you double. The CGI and animation on display is perhaps the finest and seamless we have ever seen at the cinema.
How can it be then, that I would describe this as perhaps one of the worst films ever?
The story begins with the Apollo moon landings, where it transpires the moonshot was about more than just going to the moon, the US needed to photograph and investigate a crashed Cybertronian ship. The remainder of the film revolves around huge fight scenes between the Decepticons (bad) and Autobots (good) led by Optimus Prime striving to prevent Cybertron being called to earth – very bad.
This an interesting premise and the first twenty minutes hold together reasonably well following a lingering first shot which sets out the non-feminist agenda of the film. Sam (LeBeouf) is now with Carly (Victoria Secret underwear model – Huntington-Whiteley). Megan Fox leaving the series after she compared Michael Bay to Hitler, which will always dampen your career aspirations somewhat. Carly is gorgeous to look at and a large proportion of the film traces her sun kissed body and ogles her curves, at every and any opportunity.
Can she act, no. However, for many this may be a moot point. LaBeouf also does nothing to dispel the illusion that he has yet to be involved in any movie where decent acting is actually required.
The story then vaguely unfolds into, well it is difficult to tell, because from a thematic and structural point of view the film is a complete and utter mess. Each scene merely a very brief interlude or bridge to the next orgy of CGI created Robot on Robot fight scenes. Perhaps 80% of the films running time is used in this way, even reverting to a FPS (First Person Shooter) view at one point, confirming beyond all doubt, the continuing convergence between action movies and computer gaming.
Interestingly the fighting is more brutal than ever, execution style sequences, ripping of robot body parts and spines, in slow motion with what appears to be blood on occasion. Quite why this would be the case is not explained.
This is a short list of the talent on display, all of which without exception are wasted and on reflection may well be ashamed to have been part of the film. Stand up, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, John Turro, Patrick Dempsey and most sadly of all Buzz Aldrin, the only genuine character briefly on display.
Ken Yeong of “Hangover” “fame” also appears in a bizarre sequence and yet again manages to confound as to why he is popular with audiences. The scene when ex-agent Simmons is reintroduced to the film appears to come from a different movie and jars to such an extreme, it is difficult to believe it was not intentional.
Leonard Nimoy does a decent job of voicing the new character “Sentinel” but there really is no film of any substance to comment upon, just a string of CGI show reels, some appalling dialogue and misjudgements in taste. Quite how a shot reminiscent of the Challenger explosion was considered suitable is difficult to understand and a later tattered US flag waving moment, that even the staunchest of American redneck would blanch at.
On this and recent evidence, Bay has to be one of the most technically savvy but shallow and incoherent directors working in modern cinema today. When compared with intelligent yet blockbusting cinema from Christopher Nolan, there is no comparison.
Technically and visually arresting but otherwise an appalling film, lacking any humanity, story or structure. A “Marmite movie”, either you love it or hate it
One star for the CGI and animation alone, one for the film.