In many cases, when we call a certain movie someone’s best work, it usually means a director has exceeded expectations and has created a gap from his/her’s previous repertoire. Michael Bay’s latest installment, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, qualifies him for this description. But the key to understanding this proclamation is all relative. Let’s just say it’s the best one of the trilogy.
I mean, anything with a little story coherency and understandable plot would be head and shoulders above Bay’s second Transformers film, Revenge of the Fallen. Bay even admitted that it was poor work on his behalf, just part of the negative publicity that happened in the two-year gap between movies, which included its hot-girl protagonist Megan Fox leaving the franchise after some bad mouth exchanges. She is replaced promptly by Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely, another scorcher for Shia Leboeuf, who offhandedly remarks that his previous spark dumped him. It would seem like this would be a major part of the narrative, but Transformers is about Autobots, Decepticons, explosions, screaming, and yes, pretty faces.
The movie commences by altering history just a tad. A uniquely rendered JFK promises that the United States will put man on the moon, but not for the reason you might think. Instead the landing was focused on securing the site where an Autobot ship known as The Arc had crash-landed during a war on Cybertron, the robots’ home planet. Revised historical events have really been catchy this summer, especially in action flicks that need extensive prologues like these. X-Men: First Class tweaked the Cold War countries’ motives as well, but it’s not hard to suspend disbelief since that is required throughout the majority of these movies. To explain the gist of this plot might require me to redirect you to its Wikipedia page, as scripter Ehren Kruger produces another extensive tale of destruction. Not to worry though, the dialogue, comical throughout, is more explanatory than ever. If you are confused by a sequence, chances that at least a couple of actors fill you in are high. The Autobots want freedom, the Decepticons want tyranny, keep those distinctions in your mind and the foggy cracks will navigate themselves.
The writing is noticeably better (again, relativity), and the plot has a distinct destination, one in which the explosions do not dictate the arc of the chronicle. The characters are a little less robotic than the robots themselves, and human elements of betrayal are also incorporated that twists the film into a fiery realm of logical inquisition. The improbability of this movie is sometimes laughable as are the scene synchronizations near the beginning of this film. Bay is not known for having a sensual touch in his sequencing transitions and the switch from technological massacre to romantic struggle is night and day. The glue that holds these pieces together is one Shia Lebeouf, who plays Sam Witwicky, the insanely erratic screaming man-child that somehow always manages to find himself in peril and dig his unparalleled brave self out again.
These are not the strengths of Mr. Bay as we all know, so he overpowers our eyes with more visual stunningness than ever before. I tend not to see 3D cinematic adventures because of the director’s inability to convey a believable holographic experience, an inability to create an atmosphere that is not only conceivable but that puts emphasis on the special uncomfortable glasses you’re wearing rather than the film itself. Right now, Michael Bay is 3D’s savior, and is a director with a remarkable sense of this relatively new technology’s capabilities and features. Shards of glass soar inches from your eyelashes, and virtual skydiving keeps the rush, plummeting the audience through a collapsing Chicago skyline whose beauty is tragically destroyed and must be saved again with the help of actors like Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and other overzealous, nothing-to-lose fighters. Bay comes awfully close to resurrecting harrowing images of 9/11 when skyscrapers get obliterated with ease, as Decepticons unintentionally refer to Chicago as their Ground Zero. He wanted an apocalyptic feel, and he got one.
The pulse-pounding pyrotechnics are neutralized with the help of some special cameos from the likes of John Malkovich and Ken Jeong (they don’t serve much more than to elicit a chuckle here or there), as well as a special relationship between John Turturro’s and Frances McDormand’s spirited and uptight characters. Sam’s parents pause a couple intergalactic battles with some love advice for their son, pauses that are later upgraded to silly slow motion shots of Sam’s new girlfriend Carly that seem to be smoke laden beauty shots written into the new actress’s contract.
What can I say, if there were an ideal summer blockbuster movie, this might just be it. It is a cacophony of noise and destruction harmonizing into metal chaos. It’s just what you would want…relatively speaking.