Movie Review: TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON in IMAX 3D
I just got to see the long awaited TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON in IMAX 3D, and the verdict?
It’s big, it’s noisy, it’s formulaic, it’s often hard for me to decipher one giant robot from another, particularly in battle scenes (whose big idea was it to make the two Primes, the same color scheme?) and, all those failings accepted…
I loved it.
Michael Bay I think gets a lot of undeserved stones cast his way, but he makes exactly the types of films he wants, and they put people in seats.
I think they are always visually dazzling. Now you can argue about depth and reliance on the formulaic, but the formula is the genre in such films, that are part of a long tradition of rousing action yarns, and more of… ballads to sacrifice. DARK OF THE MOON is the 21st century epitome of such ballads, the tale of Grendel, a myth of the hero mated with the monster movie, writ large. Writer Ehren Kruger becoming quickly a name to watch.
Brought to life with Bay’s extraordinary Visual Stylistics, and a level of mating special/practical effects and CGI that can only be called… successful. With no less then 4 visual effects companies, ILM, Digital Domain, Prime focus and Prana Studios, helping to weave their creations into the in camera/live special effects, stunts, and pyrotechnics; it is a massive undertaking.
If there is one thing I would fault the CGI for is perhaps making the Transformers physically too busy and too complex. Even when standing still they are a patchwork mess of colors, and shapes, and dood-dads, it’s hard beyond the generalities of this is a head a torso , two legs, etc… to really know what you’re looking at.
And once they get into fight scenes, forget about it, it is largely just a chaos of moving parts.
Realizing that, Michael bay does kick in the slow motion during crucial scenes.
So, yes, I know the visual effects guys were going for some sort of ‘realism’ in the convoluted design of the Transformers, but I think a bit more simplicity would have made them easier to differentiate, particularly in the battle scenes.
Thankfully the movie moves quick enough that you are not pondering the confusion too much, and the confusion becomes part of the story-telling, but ideally I would have liked less convoluted Transformers.
However, despite that, at no point do you fail to accept the humans and the Transformers inhabiting the same space, instead it is a seamless integration that the audience from first frame to last can just be swept up in.
The crowd I saw the film with… laughed, applauded, oohed, awed, and in places got teary eyed (I know I did) in what should be no more than an 80’s nostalgia, kid’s toy-line cash-grab. But it is a lot more than that.
Michael Bay creates Blockbuster entertainment, and DARK OF THE MOON is his largest, and surprisingly, his best film to date, edging out his debut film BAD BOYS; which I would have previously given that appellation to.
The shear scale of this monster movie (and ultimately that is what DARK OF THE MOON feels like… a huge monster movie) is awe-inspiring, and IMAX 3D shows you clearly why you should accept no substitutes in terms of 3D.
Bay set out to make the most amazing and immersive 3D film since AVATAR, and he’s done that. It’s a technical marvel, but like AVATAR the 3D never feels like a gimmick or afterthought or superfluous it’s part and parcel of the film he’s crafting for you. That said I’m still no fan of the exorbitant prices that movie chains like AMC are charging for IMAX. I paid $13.50 for a matinee ticket for this showing, a $5.50 surcharge over regular 2D ticket prices!!
Needless to say that’s not an expense I support or am prepared to pay, for the most part. I think 3D movies should be the same price as 2D movies. Particularly when most Hollywood films screened in IMAX 3D, have not lived up to the potential. Being technically and cinematically not effective uses of 3D.
However the IMAX 3D (and notice I specify a difference, I don’t like the REALD 3D Sony backed 3D process, and definitely would not pay more for that) in DARK OF THE MOON is (and yes I’m going to say it)… awesome. The scene when they go out the helicopter… wow. If the movie wasn’t nearly $15 I could (and would) go see it again, for wonderful scenes like that.
But great 3D in service of a mediocre film, would still be a mediocre film. DARK OF THE MOON is first and foremost a great film, as Michael Bay grounds this tale of titanic battles of building sized transforming machine behemoths, with the vagaries, and courage of the human heart.
As far as the casting, I have to admit to missing Megan Fox a bit. Newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is okay, but she’s no Megan Fox. As far as the rest of the cast, I’m no Shia LeBeouf fan, but thought his part was well written here and he did a very good job with it. And everybody else, Duhamel, Turturro, Gibson, McDormand, Dempsey, Malkovich, Tudyk, etc. were all great as well.
Alternately funny, touching, frenetic, sexy, action-packed, dire, epic and courageous, DARK OF THE MOON hits all the requisites of a blockbuster, and more then that all the requisites of a great film. You care.
I wasn’t expecting that, but care I did. There’s a deep vein of sacrifice in this movie, of heroism in the face of crushing odds.
And how that affects you, or if that affects you at all, says a lot about who you are, how you were raised, and what you value.
In a world where heroism, and caring and sacrifice and true liberty… are increasingly endangered concepts, and very few people speak truth to power… I get very sentimental about seeing that hope played out, that dream of dragons… resisted.
You take everything else away from me and what remains is this odd, insane, and totally irrational belief in… heroes.
And DARK OF THE MOON, embraces that ethos of epic and heroism and sacrifice, and is made surprisingly gripping because of it.
Michael Bay has crafted a film of incongruities: a film about machines that talks reverently of humanity, a sequel that improves upon the original, and a summer action flick, that is also just a great and emotional story.
All in all TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is a film worth seeing in IMAX 3D and in the theaters, rather than waiting for DVD. Highly Recommended. GRADE: A-.