Transformers: Dark of the Moon ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

I get it; it's fashionable to bash the entire franchise for being senseless and confusing. But I really do think that most of those criticisms leveled at Dark of the Moon are reflexive, rollover hate because this time, the narrative is trimmed of most of the fat that bogged down its predecessors.

There's only one scene that had me wondering in hindsight, "What the hell was the point of that?" - and that was Optimus Prime and Sentinel Prime conversing somewhere in nature. It exists purely to sell the set-up for betrayal, without any in-story reason for Sentinel to bother with the charade. Or, for that matter, for him to not go ahead and take the offered Matrix of Leadership. I mean, why leave that on the table?

Everything else works, at least structurally. I was thrilled that Ehren Kruger largely eschewed the frat humor of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. I wasn't particularly amused by either Ken Jeong or John Malkovich in their supporting roles, but at least for a change the "comic relief" wasn't meant to be the main show. John Turtorro's Agent Simmons played better this time than in previous outings.

Yes, I miss Megan Fox and I wish she'd been part of the movie. Yes, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley feels conspicuous. No, she isn't the abomination unto the Lord that the haters out there insist she is. The role is, after all, the Transformers equivalent of Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but with more glam and less shrieking. She moves in moneyed circles and is in entirely over her head in the goings-on of the rest of the movie. Huntington-Whiteley played that just fine. The fact she isn't Megan Fox is a ridiculous thing to hold against her.

As a liberal, I'm not terribly in love with the politics of not just this specific entry, but the franchise at large. The Bush administration was portrayed as competent and heroic, whereas the Obama administration has been represented by short-sighted, meddling bureaucrats whose lack of respect for the work of NEST and the Autobots jeopardizes the world. I'll concede that President Obama doesn't really need another sycophant out of Hollywood, and that the world doesn't need one, either, but the contrast in portrayals of the two presidencies in this franchise is irritating all the same.

The movie bears out that trusting the Decepticons was an act of naivete on the part of humanity (read: Obama), but after the events of Revenge of The Fallen, it's particularly insulting that anyone would throw the Autobots under the bus in this situation.

More importantly than that, though, I am troubled by Optimus Prime acting unilaterally in the name of "freedom". It's inconsistent with the values that Prime himself has espoused and fought to defend for 30 years in various incarnations, but this is bringing into the movie outside continuities. Fair for a Transformers discussion, but unfair for a movie review.

In the end, though, these are things that I've come to accept are part of Michael Bay storytelling. Dark of the Moon was the first Transformers movie that I left feeling that I had gotten what I paid to see. I loved it in 2011, and I was happy to find that, my qualms aside, I dig it just as much today.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#262/1634)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon > Barbershop 2: Back in Business --> #262
Transformers: Dark of the Moon > Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle --> #262
Transformers: Dark of the Moon > Sabrina (1954) --> #204
Transformers: Dark of the Moon > Transformers --> #102
Transformers: Dark of the Moon < < I>U-571 --> #102
Transformers: Dark of the Moon < Dr. No --> #102
Transformers: Dark of the Moon < Quantum of Solace --> #102
Transformers: Dark of the Moon < Batman Forever --> #102
Transformers: Dark of the Moon > Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace --> #98
Transformers: Dark of the Moon > Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith --> #97
Transformers: Dark of the Moon < The Seventh Seal --> #97

Transformers: Dark of the Moon was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #97/1634