I had a lot of problems with “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”, there is no denying that. What may have gotten lost in translation is why I so viscerally despised the storyline. I alluded to plot holes but didn’t really give specifics. In order to avoid spoilers I edited my review. What I present below is my writer’s cut. It should be patently obviously but if you haven’t seen the movie yet and do not want to be spoiled you should probably not continue reading.
We open up on Cybertron (home to all things that transform), watching the Autobot ship we will come to know as “The Ark” being pursued by Decpeticon fighters. Aboard the ship is an Autobot, Sentinel Prime, who has built a device which could turn the tide of the Cybertronian War. Before Sentinel could get the device off-world he was shot out of the sky by the Decepticons.
In the early 1960’s The Ark crash lands on Earth’s moon which is discovered by the American government. President John F. Kennedy jumpstarts the space shuttle program in order to investigate the impact. Granted travel from Cybertron to Earth could have taken 10’s of thousands of years but how did the government just become aware of the Transformers in the 1960’s? They’ve had Megatron in custody after Sam’s granddad found him under the ice. I guess you could explain it away by saying certain members of the government are on a need-to-know basis. However JFK treats the moon crashing as a pretty big fucking deal and he was the G’damned Pres-O-Dent! Why spend billions on the space program to investigate what could have been nothing when you have been housing an alien in the Hoover Dam since 1935?
Plot holes aside, the government decides to focus their efforts on the shiny new “possible” spacecraft on the moon. I say “possible” because they only know that “something” has crashed on the moon. Apparently in the 60’s nothing ever has hit the moon before. Much like Edward James Olmos, the moon’s face is apparently just kinda holey. 8 years later the USA is triumphant and they fly to the moon.
The crew of the Apollo 11 land on the moon and embark on a secret mission to locate the spacecraft. Inside they find a bunch of dead Autobots. What the astronauts don’t know is that there is still a barely-alive Sentinel Prime hanging out in the ship’s cargo bay. Despite the incredible discovery, the crew retrieves a few small items but after a while doesn’t show much interest in going back. The world at large begins to ignore the moon citing extreme costs of exploring it. This is the fantasy government which would just stop pursuing alien technology because it costs too much. “We have to ignore the moon, we got wars to start” I guess. (BOO!!! Politics in a Transformers column, -100) This isn’t a plot hole, just a fucking fantasy. Maybe they just remembered they had Megatron locked away.
Our title screen appears and the movie proper begins as any good Transformers movie should (I guess), with a long look at Megan Fox’s replacements ass. This is a lengthy shot of her walking around with the camera following her, in 3D by the way. It’s kind of jarring. Unfortunately the shot changes to show that Shia LaBeouf has not been replaced with a worse actor than he, probably because that is impossible. At any rate, we then spend the next hour following Sam in his disappointing life as an ex-hero (for what exactly?). Sam is bitter because he lives with his wealthy, hot (ehhhh) girlfriend but is not involved with the Autobots anymore. It’s stated that the government sent him to college and bought him an apartment but Sam wants more! Didn’t this greedy fuck ever watch “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”?
Interspersed with this horseshit is the B-plot of the movie, the secondary one which deals with the actions of the Autobots, because we all know The Beef is the real star of the TRANS-FUCKING-FORMERS!!! It’s revealed that the Decepticons are AWOL and the Autobots are biding their time working for the government smoking out them Al Quedas…AMERICA FUCK YEAH!!!
While the Decepticons may be keeping it on the D-L, they are secretly planning to….DUM DUM DUM…take over the world! Megatron, who is now clad in a tattered burlap sack because he’s cold (???) is chillin’ in the Serengeti. Along with Megatron is the sidekick for this movie, Laserbeak. Starscream is also there but he’s not really important anymore. Megatron sends Laserbeak to off some NASA scientists who hold a secret that is so shocking that they showed it in the trailer for the movie.
On with the movie… The NEST team who we will remember (or not) from the first two films are tag-teaming a mission with the Autobots to Chernobyl because there was some reported Decepticon hinjinx going on. This turns out to be a very elaborate ruse to lure the Autobots there. The Decepticons and their newest henchmen Shockwave attack them, kill a shitload of humans but don’t scratch the paintjobs on any Autobots. The Autobots recover evidence of the existence of Sentinel Primes’ ship and mount an effort to recover the ship and its cargo.
After a brief trip to the moon Optimus and crew return to Earth with Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) in tow. Sentinel is in “sleep mode” and requires Optimus’ spark from the Matrix of Leadership to reactivate. Optimus grants unto his former leader life and the two pal around solving crimes in 19th century London. Oops, sorry.
Sentinel and Optimus share some good old fashion bonding and exposition scenes where Sentinel tells Optimus of the device he was escaping Cybertron with. So what will be the MacGuffin in this movie? If you guessed “poles” you’d be correct and have either seen the movie or are psychic, one of the two. These poles create a “space bridge” which can be used to teleport…ummm..stuff. How this could save Cybertron is beyond me but roll with it. The poles have two conditions though, there are thousands of them but only one matters, the control pole, which “Yes”, sounds like a porn. Also Sentintel Prime is the only one that can use them….because he has the WEP key I guess. (Nerd joke +100)
From here on out the movie really gets going. It’s about an hour in before we get our first major action sequence which interestingly reuses scenes from Bay’s previous bomb “The Island” because I guess they figure no one saw it, so why not. The main plot kicks in and there are twists and turns and none of it really makes any sense when you actually take the time to think but it’s all very much glossed over. The moment something happens that requires some thought, something BLOWS THE FUCK UP!!! Oh yes, there will be explosions…mind numbing, ass shaking, bowel moving explosions. When you absolutely positively need something blown the fuck up, especially in slow motion, you call Michael Bay. When you need interesting characters and a cogent storyline call someone else.
It turns out Megatron has been manipulating the Autobots in order to get to Sentinel Prime and steal his magic poles. Sam figures this out because he has main character powers and relays the message to the Autobots.
Please allow me to backtrack for a few pages here. So Megatron is supposed to have set this whole conspiracy in motion, which makes him seem like a tactical genius on par with “The Dark Knight’s Joker”. Let’s enter the convoluted plot hole dimension and break this bitch down. Megatron conceived of this plan back on Cybertron . He enters into a conspiracy with Sentinel Prime to save Cybertron by sucking it into another dimension. How this would save Cybertron when all it would do is move the doomed planet to another system is never explained. If it does in fact shift the planet to another location wouldn’t the war just continue on the surface just in another point in space?
Anyways, Megatron sets his evil scheme in motion by shooting down the fleeing ship and causing it to crash land on the Earth’s moon. I guess this was a tactical maneuver to trick the Autbots into thinking their cause was lost. Why he didn’t just allow Sentinel to leave unscathed is beyond me.
Let’s factor in movie #1. The Cybertron escape happens at some unknown time but the crash happens in the 1960’s. Megatron has already been on Earth for hundreds of years but was discovered by humans almost 25 years prior. So did Megatron know Sentinel would crash the ship on the moon? Was that part of the plan? Like most things in this movie it’s never explained.
I’m going to assume he knew this beforehand because it’ll explain a lot of the more ludicrous shit later. The events of the first movie happen and Megatron is freed but defeated by the Autobots. I assume Megatron wanted the Cube to awaken Sentinel Prime. In the second movie Megatron is resurrected and conceivably could have restarted Sentinel at this point but chooses to assist The Fallen instead. The Fallen wants to destroy the Earth because he is an evil cocksucker. Megatron seemingly has no problem with this because he forgot about Sentinel Prime and Cybertron I guess.
The Fallen is eventually defeated and Megatron runs for the hills, well the plains of Africa. He hides out for a few years allowing the Autobots to bolster their ranks and get in good with the government. Then he sets his devious plan in motion. Apparently the Decepticons aided Russian scientists in experimenting on a part of the Ark leading to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Megatron let’s this crumb loose, which allows the Autobots find the engine part. Optimus gets pissy and the government-types confess to the moon landing cover-up. If they just insisted on perpetuating the lie Megatron would have been fucked but he has the foresight of a soothsayer so everything is on track.
The Autobots fly to the moon and recover the body of Sentinel Prime ignoring the corpses of all the other Autobots on board, cuz fuck them, they don’t have cool paint jobs. The Matrix of Leadership which was just found and restored to Optimus in the second film can resurrect dead Autobots as witnessed by Optimus’ Jesus-like return. Why didn’t he bring back the other Autobots on board Sentinels’ ship? What a dick. I guess you could say that they couldn’t bring them back because Sentinel wasn’t all the way dead and they were however the Matrix combined with Sam’s power of heart brought Optimus back from complete and utter death before. Also stupid is that we never find out how they died either. Again I am assuming somewhere during the Cybertronian escape Sentinel betrayed his men and killed them all, locking himself away in the cargo bay and setting a collision course with the moon. Why Earth’s moon when they could survive on any other planet as illustrated by their Mars exploration in the first film? You guessed it, never answered.
Sentinel Prime didn’t even have to fake his death to have this plan work. He simply could have left Cybertron, headed for a vacant star system and teleported Cybertron and/or the Decepticons there. There would be much less resistance but I guess then we couldn’t have these three awesome (cough cough) movies.
Unfortunately it’s at this point the movie decides Sam needs to be involved so he stumbles upon the conspiracy to hide the true meaning of Christmas, I mean the space program. This happens when Ken Jeong’s annoying Asian stereotype powers kick in and he recognizes Sam from the background of shots of the Autobots. It is unclear whether the world knows about the Autobots either as they are mentioned sort of skeptically in a cameo by Bill O’Reilly but later they are reported on by newspeople like they’ve been out of the Cybertronian closet for a while. This is a major sticking point for me because the world turns on the Autobots pretty quickly, if they were aware of their previous heroics then the humans pretty much get what they have coming to them later.
All confusing shit aside, Sam agrees to help Ken Jeong figure out the conspiracy theory. This turns out to be a Decepticon plot to get Sam involved in order to….BOOOOOMMM!!! EXPLOSION!!! DON”T LOOK FOR ANSWERS HERE!!! LOOK OVER THERE!!! EXPLOSIONS!!!! Laserbeak “suicides” Ken Jeong’s character to cover up the conspiracy and then stealthy hides in plain sight disguised as a photo copier. When one of Sam’s coworkers annoys him he blows his cover and just starts blowing shit up. Nothing says secret covert stealth mission like robotic mass murder. So Sam is now involved in the main plot, trying to discover what Megatron is planning.
He teams up with former Sector 7 Agent Simmons and his gay German man-servant because this movie hasn’t reached its desired annoyance level yet. The trio runs off to track down Russian cosmonauts who have been covering up their scrubbed mission to the moon for years. They take all of 5 minutes to spill their secret to Sam because he has dreamy eyes. No, this isn’t true but would it make sense if I said the gay German dude goes postal and Simmons orders him not to kill anyone and that is what spurs them to talk? Didn’t think so?
Their secret is that there are some drag marks from the Ark showing that the thousands of poles were removed from the ship because Decepticons are taught to drag large objects instead of just carry them off, you know just so they leave incriminating evidence. Hey, what fun is a conspiracy if you don’t leave a couple of threads lying around that any moron could untangle? Sam IS such a moron, solves the puzzle and surmises that Sentinel is the key to the Decepticon’s evil plot and must be protected. He’s wrong. So, yeah, how is this guy a hero again? Oh yeah, he let Bumblebee stay in his garage.
So by now Optimus has revived Sentinel and almost immediately offers him the God-like power of wielding the Matrix of Leadership. Sentinel refuses because Optimus is the rightful leader and blah blah blah. Apparently the evil genius of Sentinel Prime could not figure that having a magical resurrection device would be handy. Oh well, he’s kinda fucking dumb like that. Sentinel turns on the Autobots in a way that would make Shawn Michaels proud. It turns out he didn’t need to be protected, Earth needs to be protected from him. OHHH, totally pwned!!!
For plot convenience sake Sentinel Prime picks this moment to flip his evil switch to the “ON” position and start murdering humans and takes out Ironhide with a Quik-Rust gun. When Sentinel defects to the Decepticons it’s like he just goes completely fucking mental. One minute he’s calmly playing his role as a sage old Autobot, the next he’s pretty much Dr. Evil. He seriously spends the latter half of the movie monologing to no one in particular from the top of a building. I was waiting for lightning to strike behind him and for him to laugh like Mr. Burns.
Sentinel then throws a mild temper tantrum at Autobot HQ looking for his poles. Oh yeah he has a giant fucking sword, it’s truly bad ass. He finds his poles, sets up his space bridge and begins teleporting space ships and Decepticons which have been parked on the moon’s surface. How the government could spot a ship crashing into the moon but not pick up on thousands of giant airships landing there is odd. By the way why do robots who can transform into planes need ships? Just seems kinda redundant.
Thus begins the stupid part of the movie. Yeah I know, this is the “stupid” part. The Decepticons begin to throw their weight around, demonstrating how powerful they are. They demand that the Autobots be deported from the Earth. They don’t care where they go they just can’t stay here. As long as the Autobots leave Earth they promise to only harvest our natural resources but leave us in peace. However, they totally have their fingers crossed and they meant leave us in pieces!
Sam is forced to turn spy when Carly’s boss who is so not obviously evil-from-the-first moment-he-appears-on-screen reveals he’s been helping the Decepticons plot the takeover of the Earth since like forever. Sam has to reveal the Autobots plans to stop the Decepticon invasion, a move which has no payoff because Optimus tells Sam, “Well we’re pretty much going to just leave”. “It’s your war now…bye fucker”.
The Autobots seemingly fly off but their ship is blown up mid-flight. With the Autobots out of the way the Decepticons enact their plan to fuck shit up. Sentinel picks Chicago randomly off of a map to begin his evil plan of bringing Cybertron into Earth’s atmosphere through a giant wormhole. Sam joins up with Tyrese and Josh Duhammel and a bunch of other idiots we don’t care about to go to Chicago to save Carly who has been kidnapped by her boss. This becomes even dumber when they get to Chicago, survey the damage and immediately refuse to be put in harm’s way in order for Sam to continue getting laid.
The obviously evil human collaborator explains to his hostage Carly that the human population will be used as slave labor in order to rebuild Cybertron. Sentinel Prime then orders the Decepticons to go on one of the most violent murderous rampages in cinema history. The Decepticons hunt every human in Chicago. They are protecting the “fort” they have created out of the city however they seem to spend more time hunting and less time defending their position. At the very least thousands of people are being vaporized by Decepticons. I want to get this point across clearly. After the Decepticons get rid of the Autobots, they spend their time committing genocide against humans. Okay, we’re clear on what’s going on here, let’s move on.
Sam and his crew of giant pussies are bitching and none of them hear the plodding footsteps of giant robots because right behind them the Autobots appear. Optimus explains that they really didn’t get on the ship; they just hid out in one of the booster rockets sensing the ship would be taken out. Good guess. So what have they been doing since? Optimus tells Sam they needed to show the government that they could not trust the Decepticons. Here we have it folks, my breaking point! Optimus allowed thousands of people to die in the carnage in Chicago to PROVE A FUCKING POINT!!!! He pretty much did this so later he could say “I told you so!”. This is the hero of our movie folks. He allows thousands of people to get killed so that the world would like them and maybe invite them to their birthday parties.
Before you start saying “But the Autobots had to escape the ship” let me stop you. They hid in a rocket which separated from the ship upon lift-off. They even say they were back on the ground in a matter of minutes. Sam had the time to get his lame ass to Chicago by now so we can assume it’s been hours at the least in the movie. Optimus’ planned this shit. There is no way around it.
Bolstered by the callous actions of the Autobots the human pussy soldiers decide to enter the city and do so in one of the most ludicrous ways imaginable. Enter the wingsuits. They fly into the city on helicopters, jump off them and soar through the city on to land on the opposite side of a bridge they need to cross to get to the fight. The reason why they just didn’t fly directly to the place they needed to get is (and I’m assuming) is because they are fucking stupid.
The soldiers arm themselves with a rocket launcher and prepare to climb a building to get a clear shot at the control pole. Also they only have one rocket because they are incompetent. They get a clear shot but the moron holding the launcher decides to bitch and whine before taking it. About this moron solider, he is our Anthony Anderson for this movie. He’s basically a black guy performing how a white man would perform in blackface. He stops just shy of saying “Oh no Massa, I cants be shooting this here rocket launcher”.
This lapse of common sense and urgency allows the giant-metal Earthworm Jim to attack the building leading to a 20 minute Titanic-esque building collapse scene. Sadly it doesn’t end with The Beef drowning. It is a pretty cool scene but like with the wingsuits I would rather see Transformers fighting than humans scurrying away from a robotic worm.
Meanwhile, Cybertron begins to appear in the Earth’s horizon, this apparently does not affect Earth’s gravity at all. The humans stop the incursion of the rogue planet briefly however the victory is short lived as the Decepticons just switch it back on. Meanwhile Optimus Prime destroys the giant metal worm but meets his true nemesis, no not Megatron, dangling wires. He seriously gets stuck in some wires, hanging upside down like an asshole for 15 minutes until the Wreckers come and pull him down like a fireman to a cat in a tree. Optmus runs off to confront Sentinel who beats the ever-loving shit out of him, even cutting his arm off. Sentinel Prime is a bad mutha!
I know you are all worried but The Beef is doing okay. He got a sweet grappling hook and a bomb from an elderly Autobot (Que) because if you want to trust someone with cool alien technology you give it to the dude who spazzes out every five seconds. Definitely don’t give it to the fucking soldiers standing next to him. Thankfully Sam figures the doohicky out because Starscream attacks and through Sam’s chaotic bumbling gets his fucking head blown clean off. Que’s punishment for allowing Sam to defend himself from certain death is an execution by headshot. I’d say that’s about fair. Bumblebee is about to get the 1-8-7 when he hits U-D-L and Punch on his keypad and hits the Shoryuken destroying Soundwave and several other Decepticons.
Sam also enacts his revenge by taking out snooty-rich asshole with a lead pipe to the dome knocking him into the control pole electrocuting him. Bumblebee arrives on scene and despite the NFL lockout performs a Ray Lewis-like tackle which like Ray Lewis results in death, in this case the death of the control pole. Back on the bridge Optimus is getting an earful or audio receiver full from Sentinel about how he’s really not evil and you know, typical villain posturing.
Thankfully the real hero of the movie is working her psychological magic nearby. Carly just stumbles upon hobo-Megatron begging for change in an alley. Why he isn’t part of the battle is not explained. During this whole siege on Chicago he is sitting on his ass looking bored as fuck.
Megatron is about to squash Carly when she employs the simplest mindfuck of all time. She tells a sentient alien lifeform who has conceived this grand Earth-enslaving plan that the guy he is collaborating with is going to take all the cheerleaders to prom instead of him. She says that Megatron is going to be nothing but Sentinel’s “bitch”. Megatron immediately crushes her in his grasp and scoffs at this notion. PSYCHE!!! He rushes off probably muttering “Oh hell no, I’m nobody’s bitch”. I’m convinced this happened because Megatron was staring at her tits while she was talking and didn’t want to seem like a pussy in front of such a mildly attractive woman.
Megatron arrives at the final battle stage just as Sentinel is going to cure Megatron of his little Optimus problem once and for all. He attacks Sentinel with a disabling blast in the back. Optimus immediately goes into kill-frenzy mode. Megatron proposes a truce with Prime who responds wisely by performing Sub Zero’s head and spine rip fatality on him.
Sentinel asks Prime if he now understands why he had to betray him. Optimus responds “You didn’t betray me, you betrayed yourself”. Actually I have to disagree, he may have betrayed himself but he did betray Optimus. Pretty badly too. It’s a particularly grisly finish as Sentinel as Optimus blasts his optics the fuck out of his head. The Autobots are victorious and Cybertron implodes as the control pole is destroyed.
Mercifully the movie takes the appropriate amount of time to grieve for the death and destruction that has taken place in Chicago. Joking! Sam and Carly are reunited and Bumblebee, reacting to the obvious lack of chemistry between Carly and Sam, produces several gears that resemble rings. He eggs Sam on to propose to his girflfriend. Sam reacts like any hero would by weaseling out of it by saying they are moving too fast. Any normal woman would kick him in the nuts but this just attracts her more to the spazoid. Yes, in a giant robot movie, the stupid human characters are the least believable thing in it. Optimus gets the final word as always explaining that with Cybertron gone, Earth is now their home. Which I can only assume he will rise up and take control of because he’s long since abandoned his heroic nature.
Roll credits. RECORD SCRATCH!!! We’ve got a pre-credits stinger. John Turturro sexually assaults Frances McDormand by pulling her into his wheelchair. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that John Turturro’s character gets paralyzed in this movie. If you ask me he got off light. Frances McDormand has him arrested because this is exactly how a Transformers movie should end, with old people flirting.