Super Serial aims to dissect series of pop art — be it a filmography, discography or run of comics — by looking at its individual components.
Because Dark of the Moon just came out, I can’t yet give it a true Super Serial column with annotations and the like. However, I thought it would be cool to time my re-evaluation of the Transformers movies so the last week of the series would coincide with the release of what may actually be the last big-screen Transformers outing… at least for the moment. For now I’ll just present my DoTM write-up as an actual review; when the DVD comes out, I’ll revisit it, adding notes, talking about specific plot points and in general giving the series a more satisfying wrap-up.
In keeping with critical consensus, I’m in the camp that feels DoTM is director Michael Bay’s strongest Transformers feature yet. Though the movie has its problems, I think that Bay has finally figured out how to make an actual satisfying movie starring the Robots in Disguise. While the plot’s beyond ludicrous, the visuals in this movie — particularly the action setpieces — are astounding; in many ways, this film finally delivers the spectacle that the series’ previous films only teased.
Dark of the Moon‘s story, such as it is, is likely to provide the biggest stumbling block for viewers, especially those who aren’t already sold on the central conceit. Of all Michael Bay’s Transformers films, it’s certainly the most complicated; however, it also makes the least sense (which is probably saying a lot). Moon‘s plot is byzantine simply because the movie needs it to be; how else could all the dominoes be set up for the final hour-plus of action? There are numerous points in this film, especially in its first hour and a half, where the movie could end — or at least be significantly sped along — if characters acted with a degree of sense and reason. I don’t want to name any specifics so as to not spoil anyone who hasn’t seen it, but the Optimus/Sentinel Prime scene in the desert (which, why are they in a desert?) drives me mad.
However, if you can get past all the maneuvering this film has to do to set up the final battle sequence, Dark of the Moon is pretty fantastic. Finally Michael Bay’s camera has learned the tiniest bit of discipline, apparently due to the demands of making a movie in 3D. That allows the film to really focus on the amazing visuals afforded by giant robots, and boy are there a lot of them in Moon. The Decepticon invasion scenes here finally lock down a tone befitting the unimaginable scenario of giant robots nesting on Earth. The scenes where Chicago’s transformed into a Decepticon fortress totally work, and they finally offer a believable reason for human beings to be so central to these movies. While I hated the human involvement in Transformers (’07) and found it barely tolerable in Revenge of the Fallen, I really enjoyed it here. Maybe that’s because I live in (or around) Chicago, but I find that giving the human characters a legitimate reason to fight for their home makes their role in these movies so much more compelling.
And speaking of those humans… as much as the Transformer battles in DoTM are cool, I think my very favorite scene in the movie features mostly human characters. The entire sequence in which Lennox, Epps and their assault team scale a skyscraper to take out a Decepticon weapon is among the most viscerally amazing I’ve ever seen in film. This segment seemingly finds endless ways to be inventive; just when you think it’s exhausted its possibilities, Michael Bay finds another way to up the stakes. Those wide shots, especially, where we see Chicago’s architecture crumbling under the might of the Decepticon empire… those are something to behold.
If you’re looking for a big, dumb action movie to entertain you, you probably won’t be disappointed with DoTM. There’s nothing about it that’s actively bad (as in Transformers or Fallen), you just have to sit through a little mindless plot to watch some stuff blow up real good. If this truly is the end of the Transformers franchise (something that seems hard to believe given how much money it makes), at least fans get to go out on a movie that really brings the scale and grandeur of the 1980s cartoon to life. It’s not perfect, but hey… it’s the best we’ve got.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more