Transformers as reviewed in The Phantom Tollbooth by Marie Asnercrets of the Moon-My hearing will be back in about a week but it is a fun ride and the best of the three Transformer films.

Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich,
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, Tyrese Gibson, Ken Jeong,
John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Alan Tudyk and voices of
Leonard Nimoy, Peter Cullen and Hugo Weaving
Director: Michael Bay
Scriptwriter: Ehren Kruger
Rating: PG 13 for action violence
Running Length: 150 minutes

My hearing will be back in about a week. This is the result of the non-stop action the last 40 minutes of Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon. Talk about chases, narrow escapes, buildings tipping and the Transformer Shockwave going into full enemy mode like a giant sand worm from Dune.  If they ever do a Transformers 4, the company will be hard-pressed to be as imaginative and creative. That said, there is a story somewhere in Transformers 3, ranging from a battle on the Autobot’s home planet through space to the back side of our Moon and then to Earth and we-need-humans-to-be-our-slave-labor. In all the universe, there isn't anything new as far as politics goes. What makes this film is the interplay between actors, whose timing is exquisite. Each has their moment to shine and be memorable from John Malkovich hiring Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf) to the continuous leering from villain Patrick Dempsey to the I-knew-I-was-right attitude of John Turturro to the I-am-in-command attitude of Frances McDormand to the nimble computer fingers of Turturro’s right hand man, Dutch (Alan Tudyk.) It fits together like a giant puzzle.

We begin with a battle on the Autobot planet between the Bots and the Decepticons. Sentinel, an Autobot scientist (voice of Leonard Nimoy) escapes with an important weapon, but crashes on the back side of the moon. Everyone thinks he is dead. America’s Apollo space missions find his ship and this secret is kept through the terms of several American presidents. (Ever wonder why President Kennedy wanted the U. S. to go to the moon???) Then there is the real answer to Chernobyl and the emergence of Shockwave, which tells the Autobots, now integrated into American society, that their war is still on and far from over. Who is friend and who is foe? Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen) and Megatron (Hugo Weaving) go head to head with Sentinel in the middle. In the meantime, back with flesh and blood, Sam Witwicky is trying not to live with his parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White), but have a job. He is hired by John Malkovich through a friend of Sam’s new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, model-turned actress with sprayed-on clothing). The friend is wealthy auto-collector Patrick Dempsey, who manages to leer at Rosie while talking to others. Sam still has his friend Bumblebee, the yellow car, and through the film, meets with old friends, soldiers Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson. The gang is back together. Secrets are brought into the open and the Autobot-Decepticon battle begins in Chicago, resulting in an invasion of robots against humans  Even computerized steel wants to conquer the world.

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon is a fun ride and the best of the three Transformer films. There is humor, plenty of action, ingenuity, dialogue and acting ability. Special effects are mind-boggling. The best scene is probably the one in which Shockwave tries to take down an all-glass high-rise by literally grinding it to the ground. Director Michael Bay has pulled it together.

Shia LeBeouf is the glue that holds the film and the actor’s expressions of humor and fright are well-done. Simmons (Turturro) as the alien-hunter ignored, steals his scenes when he is with Dutch (Alan Tudyk) as his right-hand man. I would like to see these actors in a film by themselves. Frances McDormand shows a woman can command a central military post and not back down. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson aren't in the film as much as previous ones. We are introduced to a host of Autobots and Decepticons, so much so, that you look at any piece of metal expecting it to spout wings and/or talk. The beginning of the movie, where the first American astronauts view a crashed space ship, is highly reminiscent of Alien. Flying alien machines going around high-rise buildings is “Skyline” all over again, but done much better. Directors still can't let the audience think a character is dead, but suddenly there they are again. What runs through the film, though, is human emotion, when Sam wants to find and protect Rosie and that’s that. With the exception of the automated Cars 2, when did a machine ever try to rescue another piece of metal in trouble? You may look at your car a different way from now on.

Three Tocks 3tocks

Copyright 2011 Marie Asner