Tag Archives: Michael Bay

Transformers Dark of the Moon: Review

The third movie in the Michael Bay universe and the last one I saw in theaters. This is a movie that I do not see a lot of criticism thrown towards. It still has its fair share, but unlike its predecessor and The Last Knight, this is one that most people may not be as heavily critical of. In fact, it is probably one of the most well received of the Bayformers movies.

The Review

The third movie in the Michael Bay universe and the last one I saw in theaters. This is a movie that I do not see a lot of criticism thrown towards. It still has its fair share, but unlike its predecessor and The Last Knight, this is one that most people may not be as heavily critical of. In fact, it is probably one of the most well received of the Bayformers movies alongside the first movie.

Positive: Music and the Cybertronians

Obligatory feedback for the music and how the Cybertronians look. I could be in the minority with the design in some cases, but I do enjoy how the Autobots and Decepticons look in these movies. The Autobots and Decepticons that return are pretty much stayed consistent in the first three movies. Sentinel Prime looks pretty good, as does Shockwave.

The only Autobot I may have a slight issue with may be Que. Supposedly, he was supposed to be the movie’s Wheeljack. And if you’re not familiar with Wheeljack, think of him as a bot built like Ironhide (a fighter) with an inventor’s brain. They got the intellect, but not the look or fighting prowess. Other than that, the designs are pretty solid.

As is the music. The soundtrack feels like the previous two movies. Not in a generic way, but in an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” way. And of course, Steve Jablonsky does great with the score.

Negative: It Feeling too Long/Like it Drags

In my Revenge of the Fallen review, I mentioned how I felt the movie went by pretty quick. I didn’t count that as a positive or negative since I didn’t think it needed to. And to be blunt, RotF being quick may be a benefit for me since it is a worse movie.

Unfortunately, I am including this as a negative here because it feels like it drags. While this may vary from person to person, a movie that drags is less likely to be enjoyed. Dark of the Moon is certainly a better movie than it’s predecessor, but I did have a few moments through out the movie that felt dull and slow.

This is coming from someone who can enjoy the theatrical and extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This isn’t meant to be a flex, so much as a comparison, but these are films that run anywhere between two and a half hours to three and a half-four hours depending on the edition. And I could watch either version of these films without feeling like it drags.

Maybe the film is too long, or just feels that way. Which is weird when you consider the Transformers movies average around two and a half hours more or less. And Revenge of the Fallen, which is only four minutes shorter, goes by a whole lot faster for me. It could be that there was too much filler. I’m sure they could have cut out some of the job hunting or the something without feeling like we lose much.

Either way, this movie has moments where it drags. And while it may not hurt the overall movie for me, I could see how it could bore others.

Positive: The Story

While Revenge of the Fallen had a good concept, I’d argue Dark of the Moon had the better execution. It introduced Sentinel Prime, a Prime who predated Optimus. There’s also a plot about fusing the Earth with Cybertron and betrayal. There’s also Sam, who is trying to move on with his life.

We then find out that Sentinel is not all that he cracks up to be, and that he shouldn’t have been as easily trusted. So when it’s revealed that he is working with the Decepticons, it’s a bit of a surprise. It may not be an Earth shattering reveal, but it is one that I think worked. We are then treated to a large scale battle that tries to prevent the end of the world (for the humans) and a final battle with Optimus, Megatron and Sentinel.

The only thing in the story I may critique is with Dylan (Patrick Dempsey’s character) and some scenes. I kind of get why they had Dylan working with the Decpticons, but I can’t say I really cared for his motivations. Some of the scenes at Sam’s work also felt weird and unnecessary. Like the scene with Sam and Jerry (Ken Jeong’s character) could have been done so much differently. And Optimus’ whole flying shtick could have been ironed out a bit more. Also, I feel like Ironhide could have been kept alive.

Negative: Charlotte Mearing

I can’t complain to much about a number of the newer characters, nor can I complain about Wheelie and Brain since they are not on screen enough for me to find them annoying. Charlotte Mearing, on the other hand, I do find pretty annoying. She feels like a mix of Simmons in the first half-two thirds of the first movie and Theodore Galloway from Revenge of the Fallen: She’s strict and insists on doing things her way, blatantly ignoring anyone who has experience with the Autobots. Nothing against Francis McDormand, but the character was not likeable.

And maybe that is how the character is supposed to be. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to like her, and by not liking her, I am getting the direction they were going with. In that case, I would say, “I see what you did there”. But as it stands, I do not like the character.

Neutral: Carly

Now, with Carly, I wouldn’t say she was a bad character, nor would I say that Rosie Huntington-Whitely was terrible in the movie, I just couldn’t get latched onto Carly. As much as I did enjoy Mikaela, I do understand why she was replaced (whether or not it was in good faith, is debatable). But even so, I would have preferred if Mikaela returned in the movie. It’s water under the bridge now, and again, I wouldn’t fault Megan Fox for not returning, it is more of a preference thing at the end of the day.

Now the Transformers movies did take elements from the G1 series, like the make up of the Main Autobots and the Witwicky’s being an homage to the G1 Witewicky’s (Sparkplug (father) and Spike (son) Witwicky), it did do it’s own thing as far as other characters. And I kind of appreciate that in a weird way. Like the call backs are nice, but it didn’t rely heavily on them. With that in mind, I don’t feel like we necessarily needed Carly, who I believe gets her name from Spike’s wife in the 1980’s show. I feel like they could have gone with a new character.

That said, I feel a bit conflicted saying so. On the one hand, I appreciate the homage, even if not everyone gets it, but on the other, Mikaela felt more complex. Because while Carly was able to get Sam a job, Mikaela felt more proactive in the previous movies. She wasn’t entirely a damsel in distress and knew enough about vehicles and such to feel like she could fit in with the other characters.

I won’t deny that this may be more of a personal preference, but it’s mine. However, between Charlotte Mearing and Carly, I do like Carly more. This is also a change that I am fine with nowadays, but do remember not being too fond of it when I first learned of it (though I did not know the whole story at the time). As superfluous as it may sound including it, I am.

Positive: Wrapping up the Witwicky Story

Dark of the Moon would be the movie to conclude the Witwicky story. And I think this was a good place to end it. Because, while the Transformers movies would go on, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were done with Sam Witwicky’s character. Keeping him around may have felt draining and I don’t think taking the route they did in G1 (which introduced Spike and Carly’s son Daniel), would have helped.

Dark of the Moon would be the movie to conclude the Witwicky story. And I think this was a good place to end it. Because, while the Transformers movies would go on, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we were done with Sam Witwicky’s character. Keeping him around may have felt draining and I don’t think taking the route they did in G1 (which introduced Spike and Carly’s son Daniel), would have helped.

Conclusion

Overall, I would give this movie a 7 out of 10, much like the first. Despite it feeling like it drags at times, this was one of the better movies in the series. It had a solid plot, some good designs, and concluded the Witwicky Trilogy in a good way.

Transformers (2007): A Review

Being a 90’s kids, Transformers was one of the biggest animated franchises I grew up around. Maybe not the only animated staple, as Cartoon Network, Toonami, and Nickelodeon also great line ups of animation that enjoyed (including Courage the Cowardly Dog, Scooby Doo, Hey Arnold, Sponge Bob, and Dragon Ball Z among others), but it was a franchise that certainly had a growing fanbase sine the mid 1980’s, 1984 to be exact.

While I don’t remember watching Beast Wars and Beast Machines as much (I may have, but don’t remember), I would say the Unicron Trilogy (Armada, Energon, and Cybertron), were staples that I watched. Hot Rod was a favorite of mine, I didn’t mind Energon as much (though looking back, I can see the complaints and agree with them), and Cybertron’s animation was pretty good in my opinion.

Jump to 2007 and the first Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay was released. I remember seeing it with a cousin that summer and really enjoying it. Having never seen the 1984 Transformers (also know as Transformers G1 or just G1), it was the first movie that introduced me to what I called the “G1 Team” (essentially, well known bots of the G1 series). While the Michael Bay Transformers, a.k.a. Bayformers, may not have aged well, nor is it a perfect series in general, the first movie is one that I look back on fondly. So I thought I would do a review for it.

I may do a review for all of the other movies, including Bumblebee, which isn’t technically a Bayformers movie, but I still have to see. But today, I’d like to focus on this movie.

The Review

The Michael Bay movies are certainly a mixed bag and each movie may be a hit or miss for viewers (be they Transformer fans or not). Out of all of them, I would argue that the first movie is the best. It still has it’s flaws, but compared to say Revenge of the Fallen (a guilty pleasure of mine) and The Last Knight, I feel this movie is a much better one.

Positive: The Look and Sound of the Autobots and Decepticons

CGI is a tricky business and there is such a thing as too much and too little. As well as good and bad CGI depending on the technology, time, and effort. Since the Cybertronians (the actual name of the Transformers as a species) require a little more effort, with their vehicle forms being an exception, obviously CGI was going to be a must.

In my opinion, I think the CGI for them worked really well. Each of them look like how you would expect and look very mechanical (as they should). Even with Optimus having to have a slight color change with red areas being changed to flames, it works. And if you’re wondering why they did that, according to some sources, it was due to the red not being a good color to work with (green screen/motion/etc.) and the flames just looking cool.

Each Autobot and Decepticon looked pretty unique. They were all various types of vehicles and builds. And while the Decepticons may have had a more grey/monochrome color scheme, where as the Autobots had a bit more color, there was enough details to differentiate them.

The voice cast also is really well cast in my opinion. And while most might not have been tied to a Transformers property previously (For instance Hugo Weaving as Megatron and Jess Harmell as Ironhide), one Transformers veteran does return to the helm. That being Optimus Prime’s (and one dower Eeyore’s) 1984 actor Peter Cullen. Having not voiced Optimus much since G1, this was certainly a nice return to form and Peter Cullen would go on to voice Optimus in a few more Transformers related titles (like Transformers Prime, War for Cybertron, Fall of Cybertron, and Rescue Bots).

Negative: Too Focused on Human Characters

While having time to develop the human characters isn’t inherently a bad thing, there were times that it felt like it focused a bit too much on them. I don’t think we needed an extended scene for the interrogation nor do I feel like we needed a drawn out awkward scene with Sam and Mikaela when Bumblebee tires to set the mood.

I also feel that, at times, some of the human characters are not all that interesting and/or annoying. For example, while I kind of enjoyed the humor of Agent Simmons towards the climax of the movies (John Turturro was entertaining as the character), I did find him aggrivsting when he was first introduced in the film. Glen, the character who helped figure out that the sound/signal was coming from Frenzy was uninteresting, and Miles, Sam’s friend, felt unnecessary. Quite frankly, I feel like they could have taken out a character or two (mostly Miles and Trent) and they wouldn’t have changed the plot of the movie much if any.

Personally, I would have loved a scene or two that explored the war on Cybertron. Maybe a flashback of how Bumblebee lost his voice (a prequel comic kind of did that, but I feel not everyone would have read it) and prologue showing how The Cube was lost.

Positive: The Action

The action of this movie worked really well. The fight with Scorponok and the climax were the big battles. There were also some good smaller battles too. Like the Bumblebee vs Blackout fight and the Bonecrusher vs Optimus fight on the way to where the final battle took place.

For the fight with Scorponok, I feel it set up how the humans would initially react to such an attack. Not knowing what Scorponok was or where he came from certainly gave it an unknown territories type scenario. As well as setting up the realization that Scorponok wasn’t Earth made from a more casual observer (as Sector 7, the top secret government agency, already knew).

However, I think the battle in Mission City was the better battle of the two. An all out brawl was just what the climax needed. It’s Autobot vs Decepticon with some help from the Autobots’ human companions. Both sides want The Cube for different reasons: destruction vs preservation and not every character makes it out alive, with both sides losing allies (i.e. Jazz is killed by Megatron, Bonecrusher is killed by Optimus, Brawl and Blackout are killed by the human allies). Not even Bumblebee emerges unscathed, having lost both feet.

The action scenes are well done and serve the purpose they need to. Even of they don’t seem great in their entirety.

Negative: The Humor Doesn’t Always Hit

While I feel certain entries in the Bayformers series certainly have worse humor, I do feel like some of the humor here just doesn’t stick. Mostly when it comes to the more raunchy/risqué humor. Yes, this is a PG-13 movie, and this kind of humor can be utilized here, however, for a movie about sentient transforming robots, it doesn’t really fit. There’s also a particularly literal potty joke that, while in certain children media may come off as more tame, may come off as more eye rolling than actually funny.

Especially since this is a movie where parents may take their kids to go see (since much like the Avengers films, these are franchises that can be enjoyed by all ages despite the PG-13 rating). Again it’s worse in other movies than it is in this movie (just wait until I get to Revenge of the Fallen), but this kind of humor is simple flat in my opinion.

While certain humor does land, like the tone of the scene when Simmons, Maggie, Glen, and the Secretary of Defense deal with Frenzy. How Bumblebee handles Bobby Bolivia tries to get Sam into buying another vehicle and the Autobots trying to avoid being caught by Sam’s parents while he looks for his great grandfather’s glasses, where also well humored moments. However, the humor as a whole just didn’t lands, and I feel like the humor that didn’t do bring down the move a bit.

Positive: A Solid Enough Story

While the humor at times may feel off and the focus on the human characters a bit uninteresting, Transformers 2007 does have a solid story. I feel that it is everything you would expect from a introductory Transformers film. It brings them to Earth, shows how some people would react to sentient, unearthly robots, and gave us a reasonably constructed conflict.

Positive: The Music

Much like the look of the Cybertronians, I would say that the music is another positive that carries throughout the series. Between the (instrumental) score by Steve Jablonsky and the various main stream songs (for example several Linkin Park songs) work really well. None of the songs feel particularly jarring and linger as long as they need to.

Conclusion

Overall, I would gives this movie a seven out of ten. While not a perfect movie, and maybe not what people would have expected from a Transformers movie, it did a mostly good job. The designs of the Cybertronians were good and identifiable. The story was solid enough to work. It had plenty of action and well selected music added. And while the humor didn’t stick, and it felt that it focused on the human characters, I do feel that this was certainly an entertaining movie.