‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ Review

Published 4 years ago by

Transformers Dark of the Moon Review Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick Reviews Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (aka Transformers 3) is a great summer blockbuster experience. It’s not a perfect film – bogged down by some plot-holes, lack of development in some of the new robot characters (as well as returning humans), and an overlong run time – but in a summer that’s been punctuated by some major disappointments, Dark of the Moon delivers unparalleled big screen spectacle, and is arguably the best film in the series.

For anyone unfamiliar with series – or anyone still reeling from the convoluted Revenge of the Fallen plot – Dark of the Moon centers around a half-century old conspiracy: the 1960s space race was actually a response to a downed Autobot ship, The Ark, which crash-landed on Earth’s moon back in 1961. As a result, the Apollo 11 mission wasn’t just about getting to the moon before the Soviets – it was primarily a mission to investigate and recover the extraterrestrial technology in the Ark. When a piece of recovered Transformers machinery hints at the Ark’s location, The Autobots and their human allies – Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), Lt. Colonel Lennox (Josh Duhamel), Agent Simmons (John Turturro), and Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) – are forced to confront a larger Decepticon plot that could lead to the annihilation of both the Autobots and the entire human race.

The plot of Dark of the Moon serves as a decent backdrop for the impressive set pieces and actually adds to the onscreen action – instead of merely filling in time between explosions. The improvements only further showcase how much Revenge of the Fallen must have been affected by the WGA strike, since everything in Dark of the Moon is substantially more coherent – even for a movie about cybernetic organisms battling to the death. That said, even at a run time of 153 minutes, there are still a number of plot-holes, as well as several spans of time where the film drags – especially leading into act two.

Transformers Dark of the Moon Bumblebee Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' Reunites Sam (Shia Labeouf) and Bumblebee

Like Bay’s prior Transformers films, human drama is the main culprit, sometimes undermining the momentum of the larger story arcs. Dark of the Moon, more than either of its predecessors, struggles to find a compelling place for leading man Sam Witwicky. While the character has some genuinely entertaining moments (most notably an Office Space-like work commentary), the scenes of Sam’s personal life, set-against the struggles of the Autobots and U.S. military, still seem at odds.

Surprisingly, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is a welcome improvement in the love-interest department – though her actual character, Carly Spencer, has less of an edge than Megan Fox’s Mikaela Banes. For the most part, despite her professional success, Carly is relegated to damsel in distress – where Banes was presented as a more capable companion for Sam. Unlike the prior installments, the relationship doesn’t bog the film down too much – leaving room for the ensemble cast to do a bit more heavy-lifting. John Malkovich and Alan Tudyk join the franchise to provide comic relief, alongside the returning John Turturro, who is genuinely entertaining and less over-the-top this round.

A number of fan-favorite Transformers also return, including Autobots Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Sidewsipe (thankfully not The Twins, Skids and Mudflap), as well as Decepticons Megatron, Starscream, and Soundwave, among others. Characters that got short-shrift in Revenge of the Fallen are featured more prominently this round – Soundwave and Sideswipe specifically – which somewhat makes up for how little audiences got to see them last time. Dark of the Moon also introduces several new bots, including Optimus Prime’s predecessor, Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), as well as the infamous Decepticon, Shockwave. Unfortunately, neither of the new bots gets as much development as they deserve (Shockwave especially).

Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson also reunite, aiding in one of the other improved elements of the film – the implementation of NEST and military forces. By the time the film lands in Chicago (that epic set piece featured in the trailer) the city is a complete warzone, leaving room for viewers to finally see a believable Autobot/Human resistance effort.

Transformers Dark of the Moon Shockwave Transformers: Dark of the Moon Review

Decepticon Shockwave in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon'

As a result, instead of simply shooting at the same enemies as their Autobot allies, the human soldiers (along with the larger military machine) are given genuine moments to shine – and opportunities to turn the tide. Being the last installment in Bay’s trilogy (until the box office profits spawn a fourth film), the death toll for recognizable characters is dramatically higher, offering some intense and brutal moments that will likely shock audiences and can, at times, solicit a surprising amount of emotion.

While some moviegoers might wish for the film to speed past the dramatic buildup, the wait will undoubtedly be worth it: the final hour of Dark of the Moon is an all-out action fest, with some of the coolest visuals ever put to film. The trailers for the movie certainly give-away some of the more awe-inspiring moments; however, they also held back plenty of footage that provide audiences with a number of great battle sequences.

Bay also improves upon a major problem with the prior installments – frantic camera work that turned epic set-pieces into blurry swirls of robot action. Dark of the Moon features a set of slow-motion action beats which, in any other movie, might seem overused. But here, the slow-motion allows for moviegoers to really hone-in on the eye-popping visuals (which look especially impressive in 3D).

As for the aforementioned and oft-talked-about 3D camerawork: Dark of the Moon falls-short of overtaking the must-see theatrical experience of James Cameron’s Avatar, but still manages to set a new bar for 3D blockbuster action. At times, the 3D is wasted on static shots of humans talking in an office building; however, when the action starts ramping up, it’s easy to see how filmmakers can offer a 3D experience worthy of the added ticket price – if they know how to use the format deliberately and intelligently, as Bay does.

If you’ve already seen the film and want to talk about various plot details without ruining it for others, head over to our Transformers: Dark of the Moon spoilers discussion.

However, if you’re still on the fence about Transformers: Dark of the Moon, check out the trailer below:

[poll id=”166″]

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick — and let us know what you thought of the film below.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is now playing in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D theaters.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. ok, i really liked this transformers movie. however, i did not like carly spencer character. all you saw in her closeups were her lips, (way too much! then in the last dramatic scenes, when she was being moved around by “mcdreamy”, it appeared she had changed clothes two or three times. REALLY!!!!?????? in the middle of a major battle, she is changing clothes. Where did she have them hidden???

    • Her nails were really dirty though,I did not catch the clothes thing,but I have always heard complaints even with Megan Fox on how appealing she would still look in the middle of battle,lip gloss glossing and so on…..

  2. what does megatron say when he dies? sounds like ROCK BARRRR or some sht like that. he says the SAME THING in ROTF when optimus shoots his face with his own arm blaster

    • He says, ” We must have a truce! ” Or something similar

  3. Honestly, this movie was pure trash.
    And not the “fun” kind, either.
    I love me a good “bad” movie, but this was so insanely pretentious and self-indulgent it literally made me laugh out loud a number of times, and at VERY inappropriate moments.
    Half the theatre groaned at some of the terrible dialogue, which at least helped boost my morale: I wasn’t the only one who absolutely hated the film.

  4. I noticed some people in the audience were searching for the jokes they normally got from the first two movies,DOTM got only three to four laughs(which was good from my pov)if you want jokes Horrible Bosses or Zoekeeper was available,and an eew(the weird chinese guy with his paper info on Shia’s face)thumbs down for that guy,this movie also made me groan and shuffle at times.

  5. bravo. thought it was pretty darn good. 3D worked well for it too

  6. 4 stars!?! i will never read another review from thise site. this sh*t is for retards. if your older than 6, you should be offended by crap this stupid, stories this bad, and acting this atrocious.

    • LOL. You’re going to forever avoid a great site, because of one review you didn’t like by one of the writers? Good riddance, no one wants someone around with logic that flawed.

    • buh bye

    • Lets not for get the “plot”. They used some kind of stupid conspiracey story about the Moon Landing to base this off of. As far as 3D…what 3D? You mean the few scenes that actually used it? I’m sorry, i agree with you. I would give it a 2, not much more.

  7. Finally saw it last night. Some of the shots were great, as with some of the action scenes, but for me it definitely wasn’t 4 stars. Too much of the plot just didn’t make sense. I’ve seen GL and DOTM pretty close together and I don’t think there was a 2.5 star difference between them. Both were pretty seriously flawed.

  8. I didn’t plan on seeing this in the theater but my daughter and I were bored so we went to see it tonight. First off the 3D was off the charts. IMO the best I have seen. But the film itself I think it was not as good as the 1st but better than the 2nd. Like I said the 3D was amazing and the action unreal and you could even tell the Transformers apart while fighting. But the story fell a bit flat at times and the drama seemed to never reach the point where you feared for anyone. I also thought the score was pretty weak. There were moments that fell flat that could have been enhanced more with a more effective score. It may seem like I’m roping the film but I am not. I’d go with 3 stars although It could have been a 4 if it wasn’t for the things I mentioned.

  9. I totally agreee with this comment! This was just as painful to watch as the ;ast one . Atleast the last one had the excuse of the writers strike , there is no excuse for this travesty of a movie.
    Yes the 3d was good and yes the scene when josh dummel was flying in the beaver suit was amazing , but the movie was garbage!
    And who ever wrote this review either is on Bays payroll or a huge fan of movies like Freddie got Fingered…. which in my opinion was better than this

    • No, but really.
      If one considers the vitriol that Screen Rant launched at Green Lantern, then reads that they give 4 starts to this travesty of a film, it really makes you wonder.

      Anyone who would give Transmorfers: Where the Sun Don’t Shine a 4 star rating has lost any and all credibility, particularly when it comes to vicious attacks on a film like Green Lantern. Whether you think there were faults in GL or not, not only the difference in rating, but the level of bile spewed by the reviewer when contrasted with the florid praise and fanboy self-gratification with which this obscene failure of a film is praised… well, Screen Rant: you definitely are totally phail.

  10. One thing I have to ask: does this movie have a kick ass Linkin Park song? If not then it can go f*&k itself.

    • iridescent from a thousand suns, i didnt think it would fit but it does very nicely

  11. This was one of the worst films ever produced, from the overbearing use of slow motion, to Shia LaBeouf’s character trying to convince everyone he is more than a messenger to the cheesy Spock-isms…is it really that hard to make a solid film?
    I’m all for less humans & more Autobot action, but I don’t see that happening, these films make me feel like I’m watching Gobots!


  12. I liked it, but then I didn’t go in expecting anything other than two hours of big dumb robots hitting each other. If you want something else then look for some art films.

    • Two hours of dumb robots is what I wanted to see, but instead got Sam, and his girlfriend. I was very disappointed, should hve just watched Eagle Eye or Disturbia again. But since I am no Shia LeBeaf fan, bump. Yea I probably misspelled his name, but I really dont care.

  13. Is anyone asking how Sam gets such hot freakin girlfreinds I mean come on …. maybe his package turns into a dinobot

  14. this movie was my favorite movie of the year..
    i really enjoy watching..
    the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. You know what I think? I think Bay needs to take a back seat on this directing shiz for once and hand the reins over to a one Mr. Spielberg (if there were ever to be a fourth movie, or a reboot).

    Other directors I would’ve wanted to see take a crack at the Transformers series are James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Joss Whedon and Rupert Wyatt (despite having only directed two films, both of which have been highly acclaimed).

    I also thought of Zack Snyder, since he seems the best at big screen adaptations of popular franchises (take Watchmen, for example).

    • I would LOVE Joss Whedon! But Bay is good, in my opinion.


    • This isn’t G1. Damn, things can change!

      • But there was never a sentinel prime. The even describe sentinel as the Einstein of the transformers, that’s a3 you can’t change something like that. Also G1 is the ground for all transformers on screen. All I have to say about Megatron is that if doesn’t come back in a G1 sense as Galvatron I won’t watch it.

        • The live-action films rely in their own universe and completely differentiate from G1. They can homage things from G1 and even throw a couple of easter eggs here and there, but they don’t have to be identical with the histories, the story line, or the same character line-up. The only essentials are the main characters that appear in nearly every iteration of Transformers on both factions. That’s primarily it.

  17. Who gave this film four stars? It is a poorly written, and over stylised film. Bay has taken a 1980s kids cartoon (where no one died) and then had Optimus Prime go on a rampage straight out of GTA. They also used swords and shields? Seriously advanced aliens? Swords and Shields?
    Sad thing is i have seen all 3 films on release day, and bought them on DVD. I have no idea why? There are so many plot holes its offensive. Its like bay took the explosions and stunts from Bad Boys 2 then copied and pasted in some robots.

    The matrix of leadership was destroyed at the end of TF2, oh but wait Optimus has it, with no explanation.

    The twins and Arcee have disappeared with no on screen explanation.

    The films ends with a one armed Optimus Prime, thats it! What the hell happened after the battle? did any other robots survive?

    Damn you bay, Damn you to hell!

    • Topless robot has a better Transformers 3 review than what this website has posted.

    • The film has an explanation for everything you just listed.

      1) Transformers are advanced aliens, so of course they’re going to use swords, shields, and a majority of other combat mechanisms and weapons.

      2) The Matrix of Leadership is a mystical power and can not be destroyed by one shot. Even though the Star Harvester went goodbye once Prime blasted it, the Matrix didn’t.

      3) Arcee and Elita-One died in the last film, with Chromia being the only one left alive. The comics placed in between the films featured them anyway, seeing as how they disliked how Bay and his team represented them. However, only Elita died in the comics and was killed by Shockwave. The Twins were seen in one scene only in their vehicle forms in the film; when the Autobots were entering the NEST base in Washington.

      4) All of the Decepticons died. When the Space Bridge retracted on itself and destroyed Cybertron by sending it into a black hole, some force killed the remaining Decepticons as well. You can notice this once the Space Bridge collapses and the ships begin to be destroyed.

      There is nothing wrong with Bay’s interpretation. It’s a good example of Transformers brought to into live-action.

  18. What a train wreck. Maybe the worst “major” movie of the past 10 years. I don’t go into a michael bay movie expecting anything special but this made the original transformers movie seem like Lawrence of Arabia. It wasn’t popcorn fare, it was “try to keep your popcorn down” fare.

  19. The movie was the worst of the franchise. It seems that logic is such a foreign concept in this script. It seems that the writers and directors had a mandate to fit as many new characters as possible. They failed miserably.

  20. It has good moments and bad moments. As far as action goes, i don’t think you could ask for more. The begining of the movie could of been used from the first movie, it would made much sense to the series. The end, like the one from transformers part 2, gives a fade: there will be transformers 4…maybe, or a prequel?

  21. OMG… Carly Spencer was the weak point. You never felt vested in her… she always seems like the wasted character. I was hoping Shia Lebouf would do the right thing and let her die. I wonder who she slept with to get this role! Terrible actress, unattractive and unbelievable as the “love” Shia was trying to save. WOW. Someone saw promise in her and cast her in this part?? Jumping hell, I was praying she would be killed. A fun series but poorly done with the additional of this sad “actress”.

    • But wait – Rosie Huntingtom-Whitely is a Victoria’s Secrect Model… so now we KNOW now she landed the part. As suspected, she slept her way into it…. typical and explanatory on her lack of ability, at least on the screen. Stay with modeling hon, you are no actress. Stop wasting our time with your surgically enhanced lips et al.

      • Actually, get your facts correct before degrading someone and bashing them. She didn’t sleep around, Michael Bay called her in to encourage her to audition for the role. She didn’t even think about doing it until he called her. She’s an interesting character when you learn to stop wanting the Mikaela Banes character back.

  22. I typically agree with you guys, but I am amazed that you gave this pathetic excuse for a movie more than one star, much less 4. Were you watching this garbage! It was possibly Bay’s most obnoxious work yet. You’re talking about how good the plot was. There was a plot? This was two and a half hours of torture.

    • To you. Not everyone.

  23. Couldn’t agree with you more, Ben. Perfect review. People really need to stop bashing Michael Bay and his team, because these films really are genuinely exhilarating. They’re not perfect, as there are more things that could be thrown in (as simple as a voice actor speaking a character’s lines over another character’s comm-link), but regardless, they’re enjoyable and stellar additions to the Transformers franchise. These live-action films are simply incredible. Can’t wait to see your review for ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. I mean ‘your’ review, because you seem to be the only one (along with a few others that I’ve seen on this site) who treats the Transformers with respect and don’t make vacuous comments about them.