How do you follow up a Razzie for Worst Picture and Worst Director (for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)? By heeding advice and doing better?
Well, judging from the results of the third installment of this billion-dollar franchise, Michael Bay might have finally found his footing, although not a rock-solid one yet.
Bay himself was determined to right the wrongs of the previous movies, and decided that he should focus more on the robots this time round, instead of some lame mythology involving the Great Pyramids of Egypt in the second movie.
And boy did he follow through with the robots. But of course, as usual, that was all in the expense of proper characterization, pacing and maybe a little bit of logic.
Dark of the Moon begins with a 1960s conspiracy behind the reason why the U.S. sent the first men to the moon. Something has crash landed there which is of vital importance in the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons, important enough to revive Megatron and Optimus Prime's predecessor, the wise and respected Sentinel Prime.
With a round-up of robots this powerful and impressive, it is no surprise that something big is brewing, where the city of Chicago and McDreamy is embroiled in the mess. That's right, a Grey's Anatomy cast member plays quite an important supporting role here.
A stage is set for an Armageddon-esque scenario where the Decepticons of planet Cybertron has plans on turning Earth into their own factory, with a very prominent Autobot turning his back on his own kind.
All this while, central human character Sam Witwicky (Spielberg's protege Shia LaBeouf, still acting all jittery in trying to save the world the third time) has a new job, new Boss (the slightly insane John Malkovich) and lo and behold, a new girl, Carly (British eye-candy Rosie Huntington). But even when hot-headed agent Charlotte Mearing (scene-stealing Frances McDormand) can't control the robots, you know it's the Transformers' game.
And this is where Michael Bay pushes all the right buttons.
Boasting some of the best action sequences of the year so far - yes, even better than X-Men and Thor - this is where Bay is right at home. With his trademark slow-motion camera work, the transforming from uber-sleek cars to uber-cool metallic robots takes on a whole new dimension; and a car chase sequence recalls the heart-stopping action of this year's Fast Five, but with vehicles that not only flip, but shape-shift to menacing machines that terrorise at 180km/h.
The final act in the city of Chicago features an epic destruction of a skyscraper, with our human protagonists being tossed around like rag dolls in a crumbling tower of glass by one of the scariest Decepticons to grace the screen thus far. Imagine Anaconda but in a robotic form, with its size and ferocity multiplied by a hundred. Terrifying stuff.
With the media claiming that this is the movie that revives the 3D technology - seeing that Bay shot many scenes with an actual 3D camera - I chose to catch it in all its 'supposed' glory. Suffice to say, I personally believe the 2D version wouldn't hurt the effects; they are jaw-dropping enough to enjoy without the tinted glasses.
A summer movie that lives up to expectations and with common frat-boy humour tossed in to remind you it's a Michael Bay film, Dark of the Moon is surprisingly gritty and entertaining. With the extra moo-lah (over US$300million in global takings in its first weekend only), Transformers 4 might be inevitable (I can hear the wails of the critics all over).
Bay has expressed that he needs to take a break to do smaller indie projects (with smaller explosions?), so I am actually quite excited about the future of this franchise.
Current Tomatometer: 38%
My Rating: 3.5/5
That's all! I never knew I would enjoy this movie as much; it has everything a summer movie fan is looking for and it delivers without much faults.
Take care, people!