‘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. SICK! I decided a while back I was going to trust Screenrant and Collider when it came to this movie. Glad I can go see it now. Boom.

  2. Ahhh, much better this time around

  3. I am Glad for such good news because I’m a fan of the Transformers. So Cool! I’m glad there are improvements. :)

  4. Seeing it tomorrow at 2030.

  5. is this one of the few movies worth seeing in 3D. From what i hear about “the last hour of the movie” i guess i’ll have to. sounds good

    • I would definitely pay for the 3D upgrade this round. If you were going to see it more than once, maybe not. It’s not necessary to enjoy the film – but it’s still very cool.

  6. can my five year old watch this?

    • @Coderaven24

      “Being the last installment in Bay’s trilogy (until the box office profits spurn 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.”

      Take that how you will.

      • point taken.

        Transformers two I am still unable to let her watch, even though she enjoys part one.

        Was hoping I could take her to this one, she has been wanting to watch it for some time.

        • It’s not recommended for under 13. Why don’t u watch it 1st. Then let her see it if you approve once cones on DVD. I’m sure she can see Cars 2 instead n be happy.

    • @coderaven24

      My GF and I were actually debating taking her nephews who are 5 and 7. There are some truly disturbing and brutal moments this round – where fan-favorite characters die. It’s not gratuitous or anything but… if you were at all worried about either of the prior films, this one is definitely the darkest.

      • Thanks for the tips. My almost-6-year-old is dying to see this. He loved the first movie and the parts of the second that I let him watch. I am a little concerned about this one, and not too interested in paying to see it twice so I can screen it before letting him watch. Still haven’t made up my mind. I should probably just see it myself and wait for the disc to show my son so I can skip any especially nasty bits. He’ll be really disappointed, though.

        FWIW, he was freaked out by the torture-murder scene in Cars 2. Then again, *I* was freaked out by the torture-murder scene in Cars 2.

  7. You score it higher then X-Men First Class? A smarter, well made, and insightful movie.

    This looks more of the same BS from Bay.

    • Different Reviewers, Adam. Different views and opinions and tastes.

    • Wow, it only took 9 comments before the inevitable “How could you give THIS movie X when you gave THAT movie Y.”



      • X=x-men (tf3+4) – Y = Lol

      • This is a perpetual issue I see occurring across all the websites I read/visit, and indeed across all areas of life in general. Some (or most?) people don’t pay attention to the details, and in fact don’t realize or acknowledge that the details are important.

        Case in point here…each film review has the name of the reviewer posted, and it’s constantly mentioned in the comment threads that different people review different films, but somehow huge chunks of the readership take part in the flawed accusation “How could you give THIS movie X when you gave THAT movie Y?”

        If I had 3 wishes from a genie, one of them would be “make everyone on Earth pay attention to the details and care about learning new things.”

  8. A few things, a summer punctuated by major disappoints? Care to elaborate. Xmen blew the naysayers away, and Thor was awesome. I wouldn’t call green lantern a post script let alone a punctuation Mark. And cap looks great. Just curious as to where that statement comes from

    Ignoring T2 and let’s face it, everyone should. T1 was average at best, my main problem was under utilising the brilliance of starscream, arguably one of the best villians in history, is he handled better in thus one? Mire treacherous like his cartoon counter part? Dissapointing to hear shockwave wasn’t given to much.

    I’m still on the fence. Might wait for the dvd what did everyone else think?

    • I’m awaiting for the home release so I can fast forward through the bad attempts at comedy.

      • you’re waiting for the home release of a transformers movie? Unless you have a seriously insane home setup, I’d just pay the ticket price, it’ll cost you less money and it’ll be viewed in the format a big sumer Bang Bang movie was supposed to be viewed in. Just my 2 cents, it seems like if there was 1 movie this summer (aside from HP) that you have to see in theaters (HP for other reasons) it would be TF: DOTM.

    • Shamose – I specifically said “some” major disappointments. Not major disappointments all around. For many, Green Lantern wasn’t as epic (or enjoyable) as it promised, Cars 2 wasn’t as rich as other more recent Pixar films, and Pirates of the Caribbean was pretty one-note as well. I don’t mean to say they’re bad films but for some moviegoers they fell short of expectation. Sure, the films made plenty of money – but Transformers 3 does a better job of delivering the kind of summer spectacle moviegoers expect from a triple-A blockbuster.

      As for Starscream, he gets some solid moments in the film – but you might be disappointed. Megatron isn’t the only high-profile villain in TF3, so the Megatron/Starscream dynamic is featured less.

    • I think there is only one T2 and it has nothing to do with Michael Bay.

  9. Ben,

    I must know one thing before I go see this. I’m a huge Soundwave fan, and as you can imagine I was quite disappointed with his role in RoTF. You’re sure that he’s more awesome this time around? AND does he get his trademark voice back, or is it one of those generic Bay Decepticon voices? I must know.

    • Soundwave is featured more this round – not just floating around out in space. He doesn’t take center-stage or anything but definitely has some cool moments. Frank Welker is back voicing the Decepticon but his voice is still pretty gravelly (as opposed to synthesized).

  10. No twins, cool. I was still gonna see this regardless of the reviews. Been a huge G1 fan forever.

  11. 4 stars? wow thats impressive, I already have tickets to see it tonight at 9 at the imax so now i’m wicked excited.

    On a side note – why does everyone think starscream is so badass? I too thought he was badass as i remembered him but then I recently have been re-watching transformers G1 (which i watched as a kid too) and I realized Starscream does nothing but whine all the time and he screws stuff up all the time too. His character on that show actually makes me kind of want to punch him in the face. I never watched any of the other transformers series so I dont know if he was redeemed or something in a later series.

    • I’ll admit, the G1 Starscream was a bit of a screw up and whined alot. His real “badass-ness” came from the comics more so than the original cartoon. Personally, my favorite Starscream is the one from Transformers Armada. I’d recomend giving that series a look sometime :)

      As for the Transformers 3 movie, I’m excited about it and will definatly be taking my fiance to go see it tomorrow night.

      • Yeah, Starscream was a little more clever in the comics, although I think his main appeal is just that he’s so “evil” that he’d backstab Megatron if he could. From a safe distance.

        He got his in the Transformers animated movie, though.

      • I agree Starscream is badass in Armada.

    • I like him because he is conniving and treacherous, even if he is a coward. Of course im talking about the G1/beast wars starscream. I hated how they tried to make him honorable in armada and a major threat in animated and prime.

      the original backstabbing but cowardly starscream is one of my favourite characters ever… and started a love affair woth similar characters in different cartoons/video games for years to come

  12. Cant read the review right now, but is it worth seeing in 3D? I wont be able to get to iMAX, but The Real3D is whats available at my local cinema.

    • @ Zach.

      Yes – I saw it in Real3D and it’s definitely worth the upgraded ticket price.

      • Thanks Brother, good to know

  13. @sethao in G1 he was as you said. But in the unicron trilogy he was badass

    • ahh, okay, that makes sense, I never saw the unicron trilogy maybe I’ll check that out.

    • Rotten Tomatoes didn’t “give it” anything. The RT number is just the percentage of reviewers that RT determines rated the movie above average, not a value judgment of the movie. And they include pretty much anyone with a blog or column, not just well-known professionals.

      The value of RT is to see capsules of a lot of different opinions all in one place. Figure out which reviewers match your tastes, then go straight to their writeups.

  14. Seeing this movie in IMAX 3D this week.

    • Devin. Go for the real3d instead. The IMAX version really is just louder. I’m hearing hood things on the 3d since was made with avatar team etc. Not gonna see anymore with IMAX it’s just louder to me.

      • Devin – if you’re going later in the week, make sure to check-back here at Screen Rant. We’ll be publishing an “impressions” piece detailing whether or not the IMAX upgrade is worth it this time.

        Definitely see it in 3D, the jury is still out on IMAX.

  15. I know they’re saying this is the best TF movie but I absolutely hated the first and second films. This will probably have to wait for Netflix

  16. Ok! I am seeing this twice! You guys gave the first one (which I LOVED) 2.5 so I’m sure this’ll be great!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • @foopher 2.0

      As mentioned earlier, we don’t talk about our review scores with one another – to create a numeric spectrum to compare the films or anything – so it’s not as simple as comparing the scores. But, I also really enjoyed the first film – and, while this one doesn’t have as much “heart” as the first installment, it delivers some flat-out incredible action and cool character moments. I’m confident you’ll enjoy it.

      • I understand. Haha. I’m just saying, by the “score”, it would seem the problems from the first two are mostly gone. Thus, making this movie awesome!

        • No worries – just didn’t want you to think it was twice as good ;) and get your hopes too high!

  17. Glad to hear that you guys at screen rant reviewed this movie so well. I’ve read many of your reviews and they’ve been spot on to my personal reviews after viewing the last several movies I’ve seen lately. I haven’t had a chance to confirm it myself but I’ve heard a rumor that on the DOTM website that you can see grimlock

    • @David – Glad you’ve been enjoying the site. If Grimlock was in the film, I didn’t see him. So, unless I blacked-out or something, I’d say that rumor is (sadly) false.

      • @David & Ben – There was a robot character in the credits named Dino though I never heard his name mentioned or saw something that looked like a dinosaur.

        I did spot the Twins though.


        • Ya, the Dino character was a name-swap for Mirage – who is the red Ferrari in the film with blades on his arms.

  18. I can’t express enough just how distasteful I find Michael Bay as a director and producer. Everything he touches turns to crap.

    However, since you have given this such a good review I am inclined to give it a go.

  19. Hey Ben, what if you havent seen any TF movies will one still enjoy this one?

    • Say it isn’t so Ricky! :O

    • For what it’s worth, It boils down to what you’re looking for. It’s a big raucous summer flick that drags in spots and has some thin character development but… offers epic action beats and cool visuals.

      The other two aren’t required “reading” by any means. The opening intro actually dumps a lot of exposition out there – so you won’t be lost.

      In general, I think the trailer gives a pretty good indication of what’s a priority in the film – so if you think you can sit through 153 minutes, knowing that it’s going to drag in places (especially since you’re unfamiliar with the characters), it’ll probably be worth it to see the final 60 minutes. Personally, I’ve recommended the film to a couple of my friends who didn’t see the others.

      • Foopher: ITS SO! :)

        Ben: Thanks that really helps, Ill catch this one at the cinema soon 8-)

    • As Ben pointed out, you probably don’t have to see any of the first films but I would recommend seeing the first, just to see how it all started. The 2nd is a total mess; fast forward to the scene of Optimus fighting in the woods and when the fight is over, stop the film.

  20. Huzzah! I was worried this movie would be crap, too.

    But if at least one of the Screen Rant reviewers gave it 4 stars, I am encouraged and excited about it now.

    I was a fan of the first Transformers movie (disagreed with the review here) and not a fan of the second Transformers movie (agreed with the review here, absolutely.) I can’t see myself disagreeing with a review that actually liked the third movie, hopefully that’s not the case here, haha.

  21. I’m glad the screenrant sees the good side of transformers and gives the actors portraying the human characters a chance, I’ve read a couple of reviews which completely throw the film into the trash and I think those reviewers can f***off!
    I’m glad Ben Kendrick saw the good side of this film!

  22. Haven’t seen the movie yet – I’m seeing it on Friday in 3D.

    I’m looking forward to it.

    It’s been a while since I last saw a comic book/action/adventure movie… oh, wait… I saw Green Lantern last week… never mind.

    • burn

      • …not really. “Green Lantern” was actually GOOD.


  23. Well, just made plans to see TF3 tomorrow night. Normally I wait a few days until the crowd has cleared, but this time I can’t.

  24. And I’m still not seeing it.

  25. 38% Rotten Tomatoes Average Rating: 4.9/10
    Messy incoherent silver piles of junk metal swirling around while zoomed-in. No character development. No Transformers character development or dialogue. Horrible pacing. Excessive misogyny and obnoxious racial stereotypes. Terrible cringe inducing comedy.

      • Iggy,

        Do us a favor and don’t speak on behalf of people you know nothing about.



        • @Vic Holtreman. Sorry I kind of stereotyped critics. I didn’t mean all critics do that. I only meant that some critics and even some audience will go into a movie withh the thought of not liking it. From your profile pic it seems that your a writer on this website or do something assossiated with this website. It’s like this, say you are invited by a group of friends to see a movie you absolutley don’t want to see. You go in thinking and i guess deep down wanting a movie to be terrible. Don’t even give it a chance right? I’m saying that the effect the second one had on critics may have affected the thinking when reviewing this film. I am not speaking on behalf of anyone, i am just saying that this might have been the thinking with critics who saw this one with terrible thoughts of the second one. I’m reading the review on tf3 not tf2. I could care less whether the review is bad or not, but i do like explanations on why a movie is or isn’t good not a comparison. The whole genre thing was just something i noticed and used as an example kind of regret that now because it was a pretty far fetched idea. I speak for myself and no one else.

            • Holy Crap

      • Iggy that whole comment has so much wrong with it, im not even going to bother to begin to correct you

        • I’m open to corrections because i agree that there are things i could have typed better or explained better or even should have looked through to see if i am typing what i’m thinking of. I could of even fixed my grammar. I’d be very grateful to corrections. If you choose to than thanks i appreciate it.

          • Iggy you and I think alot alike, and critics always complain about the bad and never praise (I think thats the right word?) the good in the movie, which does often get annoying.

      • Those who can, do… Those who can’t, review.

        • Oh my God! I have NEVER heard that one before!!!

          Wow, going to have to file that little gem away to use it some day.


          • Vic Good response.

            Another acceptable reply would of been

            Those who can do those who can’t comment on movie sites.

            • Daniel F…

              Ummm, you know that includes you too, right? ;)

              • Achaeon I am aware that applies to me. I don’t agree with what I said I was just taking what he said and essentially throwing it back on him. I don’t agree with what he said, but if movie news reporters and reviewers are just failed movie makers what does that make people who comment on their site? Maybe failed movie makers or even writers. Going by his logic.

      • Iggy, you couldn’t be more wrong about the writers on this site. They are movie lovers that LOVE movies, ESPECIALLY these kind of movies, and just want to see them done right. I pretty much ignore guys like Roger Ebert and Dan DiNicola because their opinion is pretty much the exact opposite of mine in regards to many films. Actually, if they rail against the film, I will probably like it. Not so with the crew here at Screen Rant. I might not agree ALL of the time with the various reviewers here, but I trust their opinions because they are NORMAL movie goers. The only major disagreement I have ever had with Vic was American Gangster. I still think that movie stunk worse than a plethora of dead skunks. :D

        • i was actually talking about guys like ebert and even said that ben kendrick gave a really good review cause he described the good and the bad. sorry the comment came off a little bit diffenent on what i was actually thinking.

      • Iggy,

        While I do think that SOME critics have axes to grind with certain genres (or directors), I think it’s unfair for you to brandish all critics the same way. I certainly don’t share those thoughts, and as someone who reviews movies myself, I take offense to that.

        For example, I went into Green Lantern knowing that it was receiving low marks, but I walked out of the movie at the conclusion and thought it was decent; not great, but not terrible either. On this site, Kofi’s reaction much different; he blasted the film, and after reading his review and some of the supplemental pieces, I began to wonder if I was too easy on the film. Then I though, “no, I thought it was decent summer fun and I’m going to leave it at that.” Kofi has his own opinion, and it’s just as right as mine.

        • @Matt the comment came out wrong and i never meant to do that. I kinda think this subject will be better left alone because it is about what the audience who see a movie think right? Again i’m sorry the comment came out different. I stll stand by my statement slightly (definetly needed a major edit or proofread, maybe some grammar fixes, definelty needed to clear up whatever slight logic was in it), but i do agree with you and you explained it better than i did. Much better. Either way i am done with this subject. I am just going to watch this movie open mind. I am hoping it comes out being the best one, but i will still be happy if it doesn’t. As long as i enjoy it.

        • Matt, you brought up the G movie; you know that’s a no-no, right? :-)

    • Similar to what Iggy said, it is as if critics are simply switching out “Revenge of the Fallen” for “Dark of the Moon” and cutting and pasting the previous review under it. They simply write it off without giving it an opportunity. I hate nothing more than not giving something the benefit of the doubt and nearly every critic that has reviewed it has said the same thing.

      • I agree 100%

  26. What I have noticed in all the bad reviews of tf3, is that they just mention tf2, complain about tf2, then take it out on tf3. It’s almost as if no matter what, critics who hated the 2nd one are going to hate this one. I think tf3 will be the best one

  27. @Ben
    I have read where Bay says there is a transformation on a grand scale (something similar to Metroplex or (Lord willing) Unicron). Not giving anything away, is there such a transformation?

    • I think the last 60 minutes of the film are grand in scale – but I can’t think of an actual one-character “transformation” that’s even on the scale of Devastator from Revenge of the Fallen.

  28. I think Dark of the Moon is getting more positive reviews than Revenge ever did, yeah there are some negative reviews as well. I agree with Iggy alot of the negative reviews start out by slamming TF2 and then taking their dislike of TF2 out on TF3. Some of the negative critics are just doing what they do best stir the pot. Most of the viewers/fans who have seen it all say the same thing. Its the TF movie we have been waiting for, its the best of the trilogy,its awesome,it kicks ass, its amazing.
    On the Transformers sites on facebook, the people who have already seen it are just gushing about how good TF3 is. I’ll be seeing it 4th of July weekend in 3d. Cant Wait.

    • Thanks man glad someone agrees with me. I am watching it in 3d this Friday. I can’t wait either.

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