‘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. YES YES YES!!! OMG this movie was frickin awesome!!! People on here bashing it don’t know what they are talking about or haven’t seen the movie. Yes there is a guy on here judging it and bashing it when he hasn’t seen it yet. The movie sucks you in from beginning to end. The story is strong and so is all the action. Hands down I will give it to Bay he pulled off an amazing end to the trilogy. I was left pleased and satisfied with the movie franchise and I think for the first time in my life I was saddened to know that was the last(for now anyway). I give prop where prop is due and so I say KUDOS!!!

  2. Just watched in HK! This is obviously WAY better than Fallen and probably as satisfying as the first one. The appearance of certain actors really added to the taste; Well… Rosie Huntington was very hot there but didn’t as radiating as Megan Fox did… Anyways, good time!

  3. How did this film get 4 stars? The only part of the film that got close to 5 stars was Sam’s Missus, the film was pony!! Over 2 hours of my life I will not be getting back and I paid £2.50 (3.5 dollars) for a full 3D showing!!

    Upset is not the word, if Michael BAy gets another job in Hollywood with will be a disgrace.

    • You paid £2.50 for a 3D film and you’re complaining? Wow, I wish I could pay that much.

      • You mean that little?

    • Dude where are you watching a movie that only cost 3 bucks? You can’t rent a movie for 3 bucks? And you’re complaining??? Wow…

      • It’s actually more like $4, not $3.50, but $4 still beats the prices for 3D we pay here in the states.

  4. seriously chris? by far i thought it was the best of the 3… definately the way to end the trilogy and definately had much much more action in than it’s predecessors. The war was brilliant…

    However, I’d love to see a 4th installment even though Bay has said it was the end to it. But really what could be done next?

    • The fight scenes were too confusing, I wanted to punch Sam for the first 45 mins of the movie, The girl (although extremely hot) brought nothing at all to the film. When I was younger Optimus Prime was the top man. Star trek references, Autobots apearing from nowhere – the whole movie was a mess. The 3D aspect was not worth wearing the glasses for.

      The start (with the 68 moon landing) had some good ideas and I though we were in for a great movie but it was a massive let down.

      And Shelbie, no way will I complain about the price – got popcorn for an extra quid 20 too!! – just about the movie itself. It was too long and ‘Steve the Pirate’ from dodgeball was called Dutch but he was clearly some kind of German / Rissian hybrid. The ‘plot twists’ (there was 2 of them) I spotted from 100 miles away also.

      I may watch this on DVD just to see if I was wrong.

      • I completely agree with you on punching Sam in the face. I really hated his character in this movie. I felt he did not grow as a character form the three movies, still a whinny ass teenager who wants to matter but won’t go out of his way to make it happen. Why not get involved in politics, whats with the corporate job search?
        I would have cut out the whole boy meets girl scenes cause that was absolutely ridiculous and forget the whole medal idea, stupid and worthless. Writers needed to show Sam trying to contribute like his Autobot counterparts than crying about it.
        The whole new girlfriend…where the hell did she come from? She was a silverspoon gal hanging with little boy, what is she thinking? What did she bring to the movie except toying with Megatrons mind, which who in the hell believed that one? How could this little tramp who was playing up the jelousy card between Sam and her boss, going to convience Megatron to turn on his greatest ally, which he claims in the movie.
        I wanted to love this film so bad but Sam just ruined for me. True he turned some of that around towards the end, but for the wrong reasons. He should have done it for mankind, truely contributing to the autobot cuase, save the humans, and not his own personal reasons, his girlfriend. It would have showed some true character if he would have sacrificed her or himself to save the world. I will be watching it again because I love the transformers and think they did a great job with them and their story, but they really fell down with the Sam character and moving his story along…I will still enjoy and continue to enjoy Bay movie, but I will always find myslef left wanting a little more…

  5. Although I thought the movie was good, it was not great. I would not pay for it in a theatre but would buy it as a DVD. I loved transformers 1 and 2, but not 3. I feel Megan Fox may be a part of that, and possibly the story line being drug out, and the unrealistic set. I believe there was more time, thought and prepartation in the first 2 movies than the 3rd.

    • Really I enjoyed the third film a great deal, though i missed meagan as well. i thought the action and overall plots/scenes were amazing much better than the second

      P.S. would definetly pay to see it in theatres again 4 sure.

  6. Dreadfully disappointed. It was worse than the 2nd, which I didn’t think was even possible! How anyone can find any redeeming features in this mess is one of the ineffable mysteries of the universe.

  7. i thought that this movie was amazing, and i think its the best of the series. Michael Bay went out with a BANG. Forget all those haters out there.I’m also hoping that the reboot will be cool.

  8. Can’t wait to watch this movie. Thanks for the valuable review.


  9. No Skids and Mudflap
    No deal!

  10. I know i will see it this weekend for sure in 3D! and
    see it again & again this summer.

  11. I have kept some of my 3D glasses, so i can sneak in &
    watch a 3D movie again for free! i even buy a 2D movie
    matinee price ticket, sneek into the 3D movie version
    & put on my 3D glasses to enjoy!

  12. Transformers Dark of the Moon is the summer blockbuster of 2011
    Will see this movie again in 3D.

  13. Transformers 2 was pretty much a play by play of everything wrong with American culture, so I’ll pass on the misogyny, racism, and stupidity of this installment.

    • It’s a movie… lighten up.

      • You don’t lighten up” over misogny and racism. You stop. Dick.

        Keep smiling!

  14. This movie was not bad, a definite improvement over the second (which doesn’t really say much)and pretty much as good as you could expect a Michael Bay film to be.

    Is it a four star movie? No, but I could see an argument being made for that. I would have likely given 3 stars (given the first one 3 1/2 and given the second 2)

    The problems with this one: (potential spoilers)***************

    -it was too long for a movie that could have definitely been shorter
    -The explanation of Megan Fox’s departure was ridiculously stupid and I think that after having her play such a big role in the first two we needed a better explanation
    -The pacing: The pacing was choppy. The middle of the movie was dragged out and could have easily been reduced in time and the ending was wayyyyy too short
    -The resolution: What happened? Is this a trilogy? If so, how was it wrapped up? What happens to Sam now? The robots? I think there were toooooooooo many loose ends left open here, even if there will be a sequel, which there shouldn’t be.
    -Stories starting and not ending: What happened to Sam’s whole problem of feeling useless in the beginning? Is he going to go back and get a reg job? Or what about Chicago, it was destroyed what happens from here. The film had an Independence Day type of ending, which was good for that film and would have worked for the first but the for the fact that it was the third installment, an ending like that just doesn’t cut it for me.
    -Characters: Why even bother bringing back Tyrese or the special agent (weird guy from Mr. Deeds), or that Duhamel military guy, if your not going to give us any in deph story into their character? That Dempsey and Malkovich are relatively high profile actors (esp the latter) why bring them in fro such a small role? Just didnt add up for me…

    Most of the other things were good though, yes it was cheezy and predictable but its intended for a younger audience.
    Go in with an open mind and you’ll have fun watching it.
    O and the 3D was not that bad either so you if your in 3d its worth watching it in that format.

    • “…but its intended for a younger audience.”

      Yeah. Ass camera, upskirt shot…very good for younger audience.

    • totally agree…

  15. To be completely honest with everyone…. i have followed transformers all my life. I have all the tv series on dvd the comics storylines and toys and the oringinal Cartoon Transformer Movie!!! I have never been more excited about a movie coming out then Transformers.
    I saw the first and second transformer in theater like 6 times each. The action was great, the storyline was off but i could accept it, because I thought they would make it right in the third one….
    By seeing the third one.. I really hope another movie is made so the writers can redeem themselves. for the people who follow transformer from when they were created like i have,will know how dissappointed fans are seeing a movie that doesn’t fit their needs. The storyline was way off in this one, they are making the movie more into a comedy then an action movie, they haven’t lived up to they “transformer” Real story since they started to make the movie. The writers are missing main characters: Like Hot Rod aka: Rodimus Prime, Galvatron!! they made what’s transformer today.
    After seeing transfomer 3, I know i wouldn’t go back to the theater to see it again. I Hope they make another movie and fix the problem they made so everyone could be satisfied. Just do it right this time, if you need to watch the shows again then do so. Hope this does some good!!

    • Chris… and to others that don’t think the story follows the originals…

      Who ever said that a movie adaptation has to follow an original cartoon the movie is based from? There is much more to movie making than just pleasing one demographic. They are forced to appeal to a larger audience. Making movies isn’t just about fitting your needs. They have to consider everyone.

      • Travis… I understand trying to please everyone, I get it, but put the right characters in the movie instead of ones that don’t exsists!!! If they would pay attention to the viewers they might not have this problem. How can the originators accept their work and creation to be thrown away because someone has a new vision!!

        • I totally understand where you’re coming from Chris… I’m just saying it’s not that easy. The originators don’t have a say (the people that pay the bills are the ones making the decisions). And those people know that 90% of the viewers across the globe don’t care about the original cartoons… that’s why it’s an adaptation. It’s about making money and that’s pretty much that. When all is said and done (considering the sheer magnitude of the project) they did a very fine job. I think movie goers need to pull back a bit and really think about the work that is put into films like this. I live in Chicago and my office was directly above where they shot all the scenes… it was INSANE. What they do is not easy and I commend them for having the balls to even attempt it.

      • Seriously, you think that?? So by upsetting the very 30 somethings that will watch these movies is a way to please everyone?? Come on, the demographic you refer to has spawned 3 movies, 1 good and two not so good. Perhaps if mr bay had taken more from the previous blueprint then we would have had 3 good movies pleasing everyone including me.

    • Hot Rod, Galvatron, Blurr, Kupp, Scourge, the Sweeps etc… are NOT the originals. This is a G1 story, and the characters they used are absolutely the correct choice. Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave etc…. are all the G1 guys. Those other characters didn’t come until the Animated movie, which I absolutely loved, but they are not the originals. Maybe you should go back and watch the original shows again yourself.

      • That being said, there were definitley some big omissions. Wheeljack, Mirage, Skywarp, Thundercracker all would have been nice, but I understand the reasoning behind them not being used at all (too many cooks and such). Especially the jets. The personalities were very different, but they were identical in appearance (other than color scheme).

  16. I have to agree with the reviewers who were dissapointed with this third movie. I understand it is all about money… and movies never do truly depict the orignal novels, orginal cartoons, comics, ect. that they are based on… But this movie fell the furtherst from the the transformers that a majority of the movie watchers love and know. Anyone in their late 20s and up have been exposed to the G1 and G2 transformers…so I guess this movie is going to get mixed reviews no matter what…cause it can’t please everyone…but I believe a majority of the viewers are from the G1 and G2 generation…but just my opinon!

  17. Hi friends, am a great fan of transformers. I had watched this movie at the very first day first show. I love this series so i cant say that TF3 will be a Super Hit movie. But here may be our comments will take as a reference for other persons who all are planning to watch.

    So i want to be honest here. ” total Vfx and robos are pretty good at this movie. But the story pattern … . is utterly bad. Hero SAM and Heroine were totally ruined this movie. I mis my megan fox here. So don’t compare with 1&2. Apart from that its a not bad vfx movie.

  18. I usually agree with Screenrant reviews, but 4/5 for this? For what? No coherency in the movie or the action. The special effects were great as always (except the scene where Optimus offers Sentinel Prime the Matrix, that scene looked completely fake specially the backgrounds, for an ILM movie), but the action was just, I don’t know, it wasn’t that impressive. And specially those plot points at the end, oh man, the reason Megatron got up and did what he did at the end, that was just out of nowhere.
    I was sitting and wondering the entire 2nd half whether i liked or hated the movie. I’m still undecided between giving it a 2 or 2.5/5..

    And the biggest problem with the Transformers movies was there in this too. Those robots shooting at each other just doesn’t look impactful, unless they show it in slow motion, and even that doesn’t work most of the time.

    Also, I’ve never read the comics or TV shows or whatever of Transformers, but are these robots supposed to have little to no emotion in their voice? Cos I don’t notice much emotion in any robot’s voice. Monotonous delivery by even Optimus Prime most of the time.

    I’d be interested in reading Kofi’s review of this movie. Please Kofi, give us a review! :D

    • And please, best of the series? No way, the 1st one still is the best. But oh well, everyone has different opinions..

      • yepp.. first one is the best in this series.. had expectations on 3rd, but disappointed.. at some point, i couldn’t separate autobot from a decepticon.. very very messy and poor characterization.. first half was very bad.. only few scenes are good.. from next movie, Bay should concentrate on characters & mainly on screenplay..

  19. This film was so boring! The first hour felt like every scene should have been in the first 20min to set things up, but it just dragged on. And sorry, but the main plot was to bring cybertron to earth…thats just so unoriginal. Bay blames the writer’s strike for Transformers 2 having a weak story, what’s his excuse for this one, which is actually more simplistic than number 2 sadly enough. The only “good” thing was that idiotic humour was toned down from the previous two.

  20. To all the haters what do you expect from this movie? An award winning academy performance? It’s Transformers!!! It’s big giant good guy robots kicking the crap out of big giant bad guy robots to help save humanity. Are you expecting a big dramatic moment of an Autobot holding a dying Autobot and yelling out NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! after he or she dies? Really people do what is meant of this movie and enjoy it. It was a fun movie and the trilogy(even the second)imo was great. I am sure some people will hate on my outlook on the movie(s). So be it.

  21. I have not seen this one yet, will see it soon anyway but have been thoroughly disappointed by the first 2. There is way too much forced humour in the first two, and way too many stupid plots, ie. Sector 7 and in the first film “There is only one hacker in the world that can crack the Decepticon code” and he just happens to live down the road in the same city as that hot Aussie chick, … please. Anyone here seen the Tranformers the Movie (1986)? Although I have not watched it in a while that one to me was way better than the Bay films. And for those who do not think there is enough material for another, again, anyone seen Transformers the Movie? Unicron? Not heard of him? Look him up. Now that would be epic!! For those who say that this movie could not be serious and contain real emotion, … for the 3rd time, anyone here seen Tranformers the Movie (1986). Megatron essentially makes a deal with the devil, Unicron, in the animated film. Any movie that involves a devil type character is usually pretty cool or at least interesting. There is a lot more lore to go on, but I would like to see a much better director take the reigns, cough cough, Sam Raimi, Christopher Nolan. Both are much better story tellers than Bay, who only has CGI and slow mo action shots that he is good at. Anyway, keep Transformers moving, but go the way of Batman, and bring in a serious plot and story. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight both stayed fairly true to the lore and were surprisingly believable, serious and dark, which was what I was expecting from the live action Transformers movies. Then I could see those movies be worthy of 4 or dare I say it, 5 out 0f 5 stars??

    • Ok I will give you props for mentioning Nolan. That was one thought that had not crossed my mind. Even though I like the Spiderman movies(well 1 and 2 more so than 3) I couldn’t see Raimi pulling off Transformers. Really couldn’t see Optimus stopping a missle(referencing to train scene in Spiderman 2)from blowing up something and then people applauding him and then someone go up to him to say don’t worry we won’t tell anyone your secret that you’re a robot in diguise. Nolan yes, Raimi no.

    • Seen it, love it. I contacted Netflix about it and now it is available from them. Took several emails and explanations as they had other Transformer’s television movies… now you can see the only one worth watching!

      • Sorry, meant the 1986 Transformers animated movie in reply to another poster’s question.

  22. Does anyone else not realise that the main bad guy in Revenge of the Fallen was an old Prime and the main bad guy in Transformers 3 was again ANOTHER PRIME? I mean really, thats pretty freaking unimaginative!

    • He wasn’t a Prime.

      • Yes, he was.

    • Spoiler. Oops.

  23. A comedy parody on the Optimus missle scene perhaps. Someone says don’t worry and as Optimus is saying thank you you hear someone yell I just uploaded video of this Mechagodzilla or whatever it is on Youtube. Optimus just sighs lol

  24. Just seen it and yes it’s a definite improvement over the 2nd film which isn’t difficult.

    To a certain degree you could digest more on what was going on, and there was a bigger sense of threat this time around. I liked the whole 60s conspiracy angle, which was quite bold for a movie such as this, it’s a shame that this part of the story wasn’t developed even further.

    Whilst superior to the 2nd film, there were still plenty of flaws. Probably not enough to spoil the experience as a whole, but you couldn’t help feel that parts of the movie weren’t needed. John Malkovich, John Turturro, the mini roberts, all could’ve been taken out to give the movie a more leaner feel.

    I just thnk Michael Bay, whilst expert at producing action sequences, clearly lacks the ability to create a clear narrative story. He constantly jumos from scene to scene so frantically, like he’s in a rush, still no sense on how to build things up.

    Still the last hour was awesome, borderline incredible at times. This is how 3D in movies should be done. Even better was that you could make out what was going on and who was fighting who. Stand out momnets for me was the military skydiving through the carnage, the collasping skyscraper and the full on attack on Shockwave.

    This could have been a truly ace summer movie, but thanks to Bay limited skills as a storyteller, it ended up being a satisfcatory, exciting film due to the last hour.

    • I agree that that last battle was great. I also liked that the humans had a real role to play in defeating some of the decepticons, including Sam… made it more fair somehow…

    • This movie franchise is, to me, a comedy action one. The two mino robots are comic relief, and I myself, enjoyed having them in the movie.

  25. Was anyone else annoyed at Nimoy’s use of his Spok line? (The needs of the many outway the needs of the one?) I felt this was silly in this film and it completely took me out of transformers “world” and ruined the scene…

    • yes, i was! i absolutely hated it! that was just one of the many horrendous issues with this 2 and 1/2 hour army & Chevrolet advert!!

    • Really? You got upset over an easter egg?

      • when it tastes like it was dipped in crap, yes.

        • Well in that case it drove me bananas when Star Trek was on tv, and damn that Sam for saying they could fit the Starship Enterprise in that building. Who do these film makers think they are? It just grinds my gears…


  26. Nitpick much?

  27. @girlfan

    Yes, the human resistance scenes were great, but I felt that the spotlight was taken away slightly too much from the Autobots themselves. I appreciate that it’s more thrilling, more tense to show the humans battiling the deceptions, but everytime Optimus came in to save the day it felt a bit anti-climatic as he beats the enemy in like 2 seconds. Probably for the third time now Megatron felt like a third rate character, when he should be the dominant villain.

    On the Star Trek comments, I agree that there were references aplenty, that weren’t necessary, but they didn’t really spoil the film as a whole. You wouldn’t pick up on them if you weren’t a Star Trek fan, so they had no real effect, just too much self indulgence, but this is a Michael Bay film after all..

  28. Just came from it and I was pleased with the action and the humans actually fighting the Decepticons this time. I was extremely annoyed with the humor, AGAIN. I didn’t know that a multi-billion dollar company had such idiots in high ranking positions. I thought the girl who played the love interest was much better than Fox. All in all I would give it 3/5.