Movie Review: Transformers 3 – The Dark of the Moon

Transformers 3

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by Stefan Abrutat

Maybe it’s because I’m getting old.

Pointless, content-less explosionfests of the sort director Michael Bay seems to specialize are becoming less and less attractive to me. Of course, I don’t really think it’s because I’m getting old, I think it’s because formulaic action movies with all the charm of a bat to the codgers are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

As I sat back in my 3D goggles and took in the splendor of cleverly (and, it must be said, repetitively) refolding machinery, I couldn’t help but think of the technical wizardry and sheer time it must have taken to create the images violently flitting through my visual cortex. Such complexities involve hundreds of thousands of man-hours to deliver, yet I had a hard time staying awake for the movie’s 154 minute entirety.

Part of the difficulty was trying to keep up with the differences between Autobots and Decepticons (I understand one group are the good guys and one the bad, but how do you tell by looking?). Particularly which robot was aligned with which group. I felt I almost had a handle on the divisions and the various robots therein when one unhelpfully turned traitor, sending me spiraling back into ultimately blissful ignorance.

There’s something fundamentally wrong, here. The amount of effort that went into making this flick should at least elicit an appreciative nod from me. After all, I like explosions, car chases and the thunder and screech of massively destructive events filling the screen. But the only nods I experienced during Transformers 3 were from trying to avoid collapsing into a snoring, drooling heap.

It took an obscene $200 million budget to fund this crap, while thought-provoking, really entertaining movies have a hard time getting made. This dichotomy is reprehensible: these are showcases for effects guys, not filmmakers attempting to amuse or interest you.

Normally, critics tend to blame the studios for producing unimaginative films, but the real fault lies squarely at the feet of the audience. Studios want to make money, which they do by giving the audiences what they want. If the audiences want to watch movies like Transformers 3, well, I’m suddenly seriously disappointed in the average intelligence of my fellow humans.

The audience rating on Rottentomatoes.com is a hefty 90% versus the critics’ 37%. This is a rating of the movie by, at the time of writing, over 60,000 moviegoers. Ye gods. This means we’re probably heading inexorably towards Transformers 4: How Shit can the Script Get?

I understand the irony of me saying this after having just returned from a showing. I tend not to believe most critics either, as the majority seem to be pompous snobs more keen to demonstrate a capacity for elegant wordplay than review the actual movie. Unfortunately, in the case of Transformers 3, the critics seem to be spot on.

PG13. Running time: 2 hrs 34 minutes. Opened on June 29th.

2 Comments:

  1. A story in print is made up of story. A story on screen is made up of story and spectacle. While I mostly yawn at spectacle, I’ve come to realize that I’m in a distinct minority there. Many people like the virtual experience of massive spectacle; and many film makers like the challenge of creating an experience, not just a story.

    I haven’t seen this film, nor any other Transformers film; but I have no doubt that as spectacles, they’re wildly successful.

    • Spectacle, I feel, relies on empathy. If you don’t feel for the characters because they’re so ill-drawn, there’s no cognitive reason to gape and duck at the pyrotechics. You’re not “in” the movie, you’re just watching it.

      Possibly the most spectacular movie of all time is Avatar. Sure, there were problems with plot originality, but they drew the characters for us in a well-thought-out, intelligent manner. Thus we could see the world through their eyes, and thus empathize when the shit hit the fan.

      I honestly think story is king, and always will be. Without engagement on the part of the reader (if it’s a book) or a watcher (if it’s a movie), you’re just watching pretty colors. An explosion doesn’t mean anything unless someone you care about is trying to get out of the way in time.

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