Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I feel like Goldilocks.  It’s not as good as the first one, but it’s not as awful as the second one.  So, if that doesn’t make it just right, at least it makes it better than the second one and with some summer movie chases, fights, and explosions that make it popcorn-worthy.

It begins with a prologue that cheekily re-imagines the space race of the 1960’s as a secret mission to learn more about a mysterious rocket that crashed on the dark side of the moon in the late 1950’s.  Archival footage of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and newsman Walter Cronkite is used to make it appear that in the brief moments our first moon landing was not visible from earth, the astronauts were exploring a cavernous machine.  Even the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident is tied into cold war-ear secrets about what was found on the moon.

Then, we are in present day where Sam (Shia LeBeouf) returns as Sam Witwicky.  Still in high school in the first movie, he is now out of college and looking for a job in Washington D.C.  It’s tough these days, especially when you’re not allowed to put “saved the world — twice” on your resume for reasons of national security.  Sam also has a new girlfriend named Carly (model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).  The departure of Megan Fox is explained in a few short lines.  No one seems to miss her.

Sam meets Carly’s boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), a fabulously wealthy but very arrogant businessman (think Dr. McSleazy) and tries not to be jealous, even after Dylan gives Carly a $200,000 Mercedes.  But, you know, blah blah and the bad robot decepticons are back, blah blah the head of National Security (Frances McDormand) tries to keep Sam away from his friends the autobots, and blah blah all something will do something if Sam doesn’t get that tractor beam out of commission, I mean knock out that pillar that has “the ability to reshape the universe” and build a bridge to another world (didn’t we just see that in “Thor?).

And then the humans fight each other and the robots and the robots fight each other and the humans.  In 3D.  Various characters turn out to be not what we thought.  There are surprise guest cameos.   And at two and a half hours it goes on much too long (believe me, they could have lost an hour and had a nice, brisk evening at the movies).     McDormand, Ken Jeong (stuck with an embarrassing attempt at homophobic humor, literally with his pants down), and John Malcovich are completely wasted.  Huntington-Whiteley is better at posing than acting — but she’s got legs and knows how to use them.  And we once again do not get enough of John Duhamel.  John Turturro wore out his welcome well before the first one ended but Alan Tudyk makes the role of his aide into something enjoyably off-kilter.  It’s too loud, it’s too long, some of the battles are hard to follow, the action is entertaining and so is the but relief that it isn’t as awful as the last one.

Parents should know that this movie has non-stop peril and violence with characters injured and killed and city blocks destroyed.  There is frequent strong language, some crude, and some weirdly inappropriate sexual comments from Sam’s mother (again).

Family discussion:  How did the film-makers use the look and sound of the robots to let you know who was good and who was evil?  What animals and characters inspired the designs?  How do the views expressed by the human characters relate to some of the political arguments of our time?  Why do the autobots trust Sam?

If you like this, try: the first “Transformer” movie, and learn about the real story behind the space race with the brilliant miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon”



Related Tags:


3D Action/Adventure Science-Fiction Series/Sequel Superhero

15 Replies to “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

  1. How pervasive is the language in this one compared to the second? I saw where you put a few examples, but it is non-stop? My kids received part 2 on dvd as a gift and I won’t let them watch it because of the language. Thanks.

    1. Hi, Lance. The language is frequent (maybe 20 s-words and some other crude terms), but that would not trouble me as much as the violence and brief but very crude sexual humor.

  2. Hi Nell,

    I’m not surprised by any of the language.. I think it’s fair to say that these films are, indeed, targeted for a pre-teen/teenage boys audience.. hense the PG-13 rating. And, yes, the rules allow one or two F-words.. which I am cettain boy8s aged 10 and above have heard in school or in their social activities.. so it’s nothing they haven’t encounted.

    I first heard the S and F words in school. I didn’t hear in in a film or at home. And, it’s likely that today kida have used in when chatting on Facebook…

    The bottom line: If z film is rated PG-13, no one should be alarmed by the language or amount of violence, or sexual innudo in these films. It’s expected in these films. But, I think these films are still entertaining and fun to see.

    if your child is under 10 years of age, I would not recommend the Transformer series. I’d rent the cartoon versions on DVD or Blu-Ray. Those should have less vulgar material.

  3. This is one of the few franchises out there that despite being crude and inappropriate, despite all the mediocre reviews will make allot of money. This and Harry Potter will be the biggest movies of the year. I estimate that it will make at least 800 million worldwide, there is no denying that power.

  4. Hi again, Nell, so we saw it this morning. You are spot on. Better than the second, but not as good as the first. The 1st one is actually my favorite movie of all time which I’m sure upsets my mother who is more in the Gone with The Wind/Wizard of Oz era. Anyway, my 17 yr old prudey daughter, Skye, offered this critique “I thought it was totally awesome and I loved it except for the new girl, the swearing and the fact that Sam’s mom is a potty mouth. Gross” So there you have HER review (lol). I was bothered about how many small children were in the theatre again, there were little kids talking and not understanding what was going on. It’s just so irritating. Plus what kind of parent sees Trans 2 and thinks it’s okay to bring their 5 year old to Trans 3? Really? Overall, I thought it was a perfect summertime movie for the day that it was 118 in Phoenix. And yes, when the DVD comes out, I’ll get it.

  5. I grew up in the 80’s…just about the time PG-13 was introduced. The earlier PG-13 movies did not have F-words in them. An F word would automatically be an R movie.

    Maybe I’m too conservative, or old fashioned, but I think today’s PG-13 movies would have been rated R 20 years ago.

    1. You are right, Jeff. Studies have shown that the ratings have repeatedly ratcheted down so that what once got an R now gets a PG-13 and what got a PG-13 now gets a PG. They say — with just justification — that they are reflecting changing standards in society around them. Think about what is permitted on broadcast television these days that would never have been allowed 15 years ago. That’s one reason I created this site, to give parents and other moviegoers better and more consistent information.

  6. I think it’s also due to the fact that it’s more common to hear the F and S words. No one reacts to it as strongly these days. There may be more parents who react to it than in Sweden, though. Foul language is so commonplace in Sweden that no one cares.. you even hear it on televion. There have been many R-Rated films viewed on Swedish televiosn without any censur at all. Even Scarface was on TV without any cencur. And that was on Sweden’s public station!

    The ratings board in Swwden made no comment on the language in this film, but did comment on the violence in this film.

    Society changes, as do attitudes towards what’s acceptable. The very notion of nudidy being shown wasn’t even apporopiate until the 1960’s in mainstream movies. So much has changed just in recent years with technology in terms of media itself. Just think of the access we have.. This also is a factor as to why films have allowed more nudity, violence ans sexual jokes in mainstream films.

    I think young people would be amused by how the earlier films were made. The y may even think those films were tame. I can still remember being awed just by the film Star Wars.. since no one had seen special effect done the way that film did it in 1977. Today’s films wouldn’t make any money if they had less effects like the original Star Wars. Again, things change. Is it for the better? No. But Hollywood loves $$$!

  7. Saw this last night. Agree about it being better than the last movie and that it went on way too long. It was a fun movie, but at some point, even the cool robot special effects began to bore me. You can only watch that stuff for some long before it all starts to look the same. I thought that Sam was a jerk and it really made me dislike his character for the 1st time. I know he was frustrated with being unable to talk about what happened plus not find a job, but with the attitude he showed, it didn’t look as if he deserved to be hired anyway. He wasn’t nice to his girlfriend either.

    As for the new girl (whatever her name is), she certainly fit the role of ‘beautiful girl in peril. Her acting was good enough (this role doesn’t really seem to call for much acting but she did ok and was certainly better than Fox). I actually think that it could be a funny running joke that each time they film a movie, they have a different hot model play the part. And they shouldn’t explain it. Just keep changing models.

    The mom had the best lines.

    1. I love your changing models idea, Janine! But I kind of hope this is the last one.

  8. This was a definite step up from Revenge of the Fallen in terms of humour, pacing, characterisation, etc – but I gotta say I would have enjoyed it more if they’d recast Mikaela rather than bring in Carly. (Though it’s hard to say how I’d feel if I had any familiarity with Transformers: Generation One.) This just makes their earlier subplots more pointless than they arguably already were.

    Highlights for me would have to be the performances by Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Dempsey.

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