Transformers: Dark of the Moon

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: +2

Shia LaBeouf, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Kevin Dunn, with John Malkovich and Frances McDormand. Action/adventure. Written by Ehren Kruger. Directed by Michael Bay.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Shia LaBeouf returns as Sam Witwicky in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. When a mysterious event from Earth's past erupts into the present day it threatens to bring a war to Earth so big that the Transformers alone will not be able to save us. Once again, the Autobots and the Decepticons are battling it out, with the residents of Earth in between.

PREVIEW REVIEW: This newest Transformer movie from Paramount and Hasbro Toys has a good use of 3D; there are several funny lines and a positive message about the importance of freedom for everyone; Shia LaBeouf is fine actor; and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (who takes over for, what was her name?) is stunningly beautiful. Those are the good points. And if you like watching cars transform into building-sized robots and battling one another for two and a half hours, then Dark of the Moon is a movie built for you. I assume that must be the main draw as this is, after all, the third installment, with no end in sight for the franchise.

I was enjoying the movie because of the audience. They’d been hyped and they were pumped. You could sense the anticipation, the excitement in the theater; the feeling was palpable. So, I quickly got into the film and it had me for quite some time. The action in the first half was broken up by witty lines and some character-developing time, which relieved viewers from the constant bombardment of robot body slams. At the end of hour two, however, I began to question, “Just how much of this chaotic combat does this audience want?” It just wouldn’t stop.

Few moviemakers can hold their audience on body slams alone. Seeing one Hasbro toy beating up another for endless sequences is not my idea of plot development.

Here’s a trend that annoys me. We’re seeing the use of true history as a plot device to further the alternate universe of graphic book mythology. In this case, a TV cartoon race of mechanical beings has been morphed into a CGI-laden live-action thriller, with true events serving as fictional fodder. In The X-Men: First Class, the writer uses the Cold War, and especially the Cuban missile crisis, as backdrop for his comic book adventure. I don’t think you can actually call this revisionist history. They are, after all, superheroes from a Marvel magazine. Still, those 13 days in 1962 were a tense time for the real world, a global drama that could literally have led to Armageddon. That true-life incident deserves more respectful cinematic attention than a cartoonish send-up.

Transformers: D. O. T. M. begins on the moon, with Neil Armstrong not just taking a giant leap for mankind, but according to this film, also discovering a colossal spaceship during those moments when Earth couldn’t receive any pictures or audio from Apollo 11. The drama of that historical landing on the moon is underplayed here, as if a more interesting story were unfolding. Maybe I’m making more out of it than I should, but is that the fate of standout moments in history, to be mere background stories in comic book movies?

Side note: After two hours, I got up and moved to the bottom of the seating stage, my bum having bottomed out before the third act. There was a lady standing there, with her baby, maybe six months old. Now this is a loud, frenzied movie, one whose noise level most would find unsuitable for little kids, let alone infants. I wish I would have approached her and said, “I know it’s none of my business, but I’ve read studies that indicate this loud noise is not good for the ears of such little ones. I think it’s just going to get worse as the movie goes on. You might want to take your child out.” Yeah, I know, it wouldn’t have done any good. But I’ve been thinking about that baby all day. And to be honest, I have nothing good to say about a parent who subjects an infant or a toddler to such content just so the adult can see a film about robots battling over planet Earth.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Paramount Studios

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: A dozen or so obscenities and several minor expletives.

Profanity: Jesus’ name is misused two times and variations of the expression “Oh my God” are uttered several times.

Violence: Giant mutated robots create havoc, killing people, destroying buildings and monuments – including the statue of Lincoln in D.C., and battling each other throughout the 2 ˝ hour film. Blood: Considering the amount of devastation, there’s not much blood.

Sex: There’s some sexuality, mainly towards the beginning as the lead couple live together and the camera ogles Ms. Huntington-Whiteley; there’s also some gay humor, including a situation where two men are in a bathroom stall, not for sexual purposes, but mistaken as such.

Nudity: None, though Ms. Huntington-Whiteley is provocatively dressed in very brief underwear in one scene.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Brief drinking.

Other: None

Running Time: 150 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Up

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