Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, Patrick Dempsey, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Alan Tudyk, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Ken Jeong and Buzz Aldrin.
Running Time: 157 mins. approx.
Seen At: Didsbury.
On: Friday, 15th July, 2011.
Michael Bay is a fan of huge-scale blockbusters. From 2001’s epic World War Two drama Pearl Harbor, to 1998’s sci-fi disaster Armageddon and the 2005 highly original futuristic thriller The Island – the spectacle of flashy visual effects is never more evident, than in the Transformers franchise.
Based of course on the famous children’s toy, these films pitch huge mechanical robots of virtual metal against each other.
This time, for the third movie in the series, as the war between the Autobots and Deceptacons intensifies, we also have the somewhat far-fetched backdrop of a piece of crash-landed alien matter sabotaging the 1969 moon-landing...
It all turns out to be quite a disappointment, which is a great shame – particularly when proceedings started off so well. We’re presented with an astonishing opening space battle – which is where the 3D aspect is really allowed to come into its own. Flying ships zoom past your head and lasers blast right in your face – but unfortunately this level of excitement fails to be maintained all the way through. Shia LaBeouf returns as the supposed ‘every-teen’ Sam Witwicky, and with the well-documented axing of Megan Fox from the series, she’s replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who’s so extremely wooden that it’s impossible to ever feel at all captivated or engrossed by her relationship with Sam. Worse still is the total waste of such talented actors in thin, frankly rather pointless supporting roles such as John Malkovich or Ken Jeong, and particularly Frances McDormand – she has little else to do than stand around looking overly authoritative.
That said, LaBeouf still does a great job as Sam – quick-witted, relatable and always likeable – he remains one of my favourite actors. It’ll be interesting to see him progress onto more mature roles that he set in motion with the likes of the Rear Window pastiche Disturbia, and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street sequel opposite Micheal Douglas last year.
The technical skill involved in the huge action set-pieces remains truly staggering. Having to task of reacting to monumental robots constantly fighting each other must present a great challenge for the actors. Especially memorable is the apocalyptic sight of spacecrafts dominating the skyline, and an entire building split in half, as our characters cling on for dear life. The standard of the special effects on display is stunning.
Also, these machines possess the ability to transform themselves into sleek sports cars – blisteringly vibrant in either orange, yellow or white. So obviously, Bay can’t write state-of-the-art sports cars into the script and resist including at least two surprisingly gripping car chases halfway through.
And talking of the screenplay, the dialogue is maddeningly expositional, frequently clichéd and the laboriously overlong running time of well over two-and-a-half hours certainly doesn’t help matters.
It is novel to see a rare glimpse of the real Buzz Aldrin in a cameo though, but here’s hoping that this is the last installment, to save the franchise from descending into the deliriously excessive.
Loud, overcooked and far too unsubtle.
Rating: * * *