‘Dark of the Moon’ more of the same

If you’re looking for a summer thrill, this is the movie to go see. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is the third franchise installment from Paramount and Director Michael Bay. Set in current time, the movie takes a trip back to the pioneering days of moon travel as we battled the Russians to find out more about an alien ship on the moon. That ship just happens to be a super weapon invented by the autobots that was meant to save their world. That is, until it crashed into the moon and was lost for decades.

The movie revolves around the discovery of the ship and the battle between the decepticons and the autobots to control it. And guess who is stuck in the middle? Those poor, helpless humans. Again.

Shia LeBeouf reprises his role of Sam Witwicky and brings his fast paced humor to the role neatly. He also takes a couple of tries at physical comedy which land mostly on the right side of funny. His new girlfriend Carly, played by Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, fills the role similarly to the way Megan Fox did in the past: sexy with a side of ‘just-enough’ acting. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson also reprise their roles as butt-kicking special forces military men. Patrick Demsey gives his best shot at being a bad guy, though it falls way, way short.

The best acting in the movie was performed by those in smaller roles and those making cameos. John Malkovich gives the movie and injection of crazy which sits nicely with the audience. Ken Jeong (“The Hangover”) has about five minutes of hilarity on the screen. Frances McDormand (“Fargo”), Alan Tudyk (“A Knights Tale”) and John Turturro (reprising his role as Agent Simmons) give validty to acting in the film with their terrific (and giggle-worthy) performances.

Even real-life cameos from astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and video footage of Walter Cronkite, President Kennedy and others outshined the main acts. In fact, on of the most interesting plot points in the movie is how it weaves history with fantasy. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. raced to get to the moon not because of the Cold War, but because there was alien action on it! The Chernobyl disaster happened not because of nuclear weapons but rather because the Russians were messing with alien technology that they didn’t know how to control.

Another highlight of the film was Bay’s specialty: special effects. His past ambitions include Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon (producer) and Pearl Harbor. Building on those triumphs in effects, Bay hits the audience with dizzying visual effects using 3D and CG and then blasts you with sound that you can hear and feel. Standout special effects scenes include a autobot versus decepticon battle on the highway and a skydiving scene in which features special forces in “wing suits.” You have to see it to believe it. (Although even as you’re enjoying the ride, you’re not really believing it.)

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That said, the last battle scene is literally dizzying in special effects, especially when combined with 3D. Unfortunately the scene goes on for at least an hour. While Bay is attempting a complex battle scene where the viewer is on the edge of his seat, what he gets is a confused audeince who is trying to follow at least five separate parties that are headed into the battle. For an hour. Not surprising since in all things, Bay is certainly not a director who believes less is more.

Transformers has never been about plot nor has it been about stellar acting, especially considering the best acting often comes from the computer generated robots. Despite those facts, fans of the franchise will enjoy in this installment what they’ve always enjoyed from the movies: action, special effects and a sexy girl.