I’ve been a Transformers fan since my childhood, and these new movies place me in a dilemma: I want to castigate them for trashing the source material, but at the same time I’m drawn to the action and adventure.
Anyway, there’s action and explosions and Leonard Nimoy reciting some of his most famous Star Trek lines. Peter Cullen is a great Optimus Prime, though I think he’s diminished by the script. The spectacle is amazing, with some very fancy robots – my favourite is probably Shockwave.
Now for the bad side of things. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a grammatically-challenged incoherent waste of potential. Characters from prior movies pop-up just to show their faces, and depth of personality is utterly absent.
There are fantastic robot designs, and lots of potential: the vengeful Megatron, arrogant yet cowardly Starscream, the loyal infiltrator Soundwave (who in a bout of utter continuity failure is a frickin’ car in this movie), the spectacular Shockwave, and the conflicted Sentinel. However Michael Bay has no idea how to create drama out of any of this – or any of the human actors – and the tone of the movie jumps all over the place, scattering cliches instead of genuine emotion.
Bay is supposedly an action director, but I found many of his set pieces annoying hard to follow. The scenes in the skyscrapers fleeing from Shockwave were fantastic, but much of the actual combat was incoherent and the melee and ranged impacts felt light. Bay just shows everything from a bland middle-distance and is incapable of generating a storyline of the action.
I did like parts of the underlying story: the idea of long-term Decepticon infiltration (under Soundwave, my favourite Transformer no less) really fired up my imagination. (And reminded me of Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga.)