By Susan JAMES
Fear not all you gamers, geeks and sci-fy seekers, the big bang that is the third installment of director Michael Bay’s “Transformers’” series is finally here. The ‘bot boys are back led by Optimus Prime on a mission to protect humanity and save planet Earth from the Decepticons. In case you don’t remember or never knew, the Autobots are survivors of a peaceful mechanical race hiding out on Earth from their enemies the Decepticons. Ranging in size from household pets to 10-story high machines, they can convert themselves into any mechanical form they want. Cars, computers, super-nifty Rolex watches. It’s Legoland gone nuclear.
Subtitled ‘Dark of the Moon,’ the movie opens with some clever film magic that revisits the 1960s and the USA moon landing. Actual newsreel footage is interspersed with faux scenes that show astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin pursuing the government’s secret moon landing agenda, the investigation of the remains of Cybertron spaceship that crash-landed on the moon’s dark side during the Autobot-Decepticon great war. On board although undiscovered by the astronauts is Optimus Prime’s former mentor, Sentinel (voiced by Leonard Nimoy). During the war, Sentinel was tasked with protecting advanced technology that could have tipped the scales of battle and given the Autobots the advantage.
Back to the present and Autobots’ human BFF, Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LaBeouf, is having a bad time of it. Excluded by the U.S. government from the top-secret ops of the ‘bots, he is jobless, depressed and living with his girlfriend Carly, a corporate cog employed by Dylan (Patrick Dempsey). Dylan is working secretly for the Decepticon bad guys who plan to recover the technology on the lunar wreck and use it to build a spacebridge so that they can tow their mangled planet into Earth’s orbit for repairs. The enslaved pit crews they foresee using for this project is the human race.
Cut off from helping outwit the Decepticonic lot by the officious head of National Security played by Frances McDormand, Shia’s Sam makes his own plans, calling in some favors from old friends, human and mechanical. When girlfriend Carly is taken hostage by Dylan, he slams into action. As the rods that will open the spacebridge start to go online at the top of a building in downtown Chicago, man and ‘bot join in a battle to destroy the bridge and take down the Decepticons. The battle runs for two-thirds of the movie and is not for those with sensitive sight or hearing.
If you’re looking for clever plots or nuanced characters, this movie is not for you. If on the other hand you enjoy loud car crashes in 3D, you’re at the right place. Leonard Nimoy’s vocal impersonation of Mr. Spock doing Yoda-speak is almost worth the price of admission, but not quite. Acting highlights include LaBeouf either sulking or screaming at full throttle for the entire length of the film and in her first acting assignment, and it shows, supermodel Rosie Huntingont-Whiteley as Carly. Supporting actors like McDormand, John Turturro and Alan Tudyk fare better but even these tiny human fail-safes aren’t enough to save a mechanical monstrosity.
See you at the movies!