‘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. just came back from the cinema. Transformers was frikin awesome@@@@@@@@@

  2. WOW!!!!! This one made the first 2 look DUMB! Why weren’t they all this awesome!?!?!?!?!

    56 out of 5 for me. And yes I meant 56

  3. To my dearest friends in Holly’s Woods,

    I want to Thank You for yet again taking my hard earned cash ($9.50 a ticket) in exchange for a McDonald-version of movie making! While I love and have grown up with Mr. Spielberg he simply must can the thrown together garbage sitting on his desk. We “your fans” are wanting more from both you and Mr. Bay, whom I admire after reading about his rise to greatness on wiki. Hats off to you Sir. Still, I am quite positive you two are in the realm of the knights of Hollywood and sit at the table of riches due to it, certainly these fantastic minds could do better than this. Speaking of “riches” your shameless, paid for- obviously, plug of The Donald is duly noted. Granted, this by far redeems you both for the tragedy of T-2 and the hilarity of your Meganite Fire scandal, yet I cannot abide by nor accept-ever; the use of another person’s work without credit whereby, it is due.

    (1.) The images used for Pripyat squarely come from yoru admiration for Elena’s “kiddofspeed” website. Someone in Hollywood must find this woman and give her a role in a nuclear holocaust movie.

    (2.) The french artist busted for the You Tube NASA video of a crashed alien spaceship on the dark side of the moon and his follow-up tale of the bogus Apollo 19 mission to explore it.

    (3.) Tentacled space craft taken straight out of Battle L.A. and missile fire from Skyline. To be fair Marvel Comics and Chris Claremont’s X-Men may have inspired them anyway.

    (4.) Credit Takara Tomy G@DAMIT he is the reason your are making money from these films.

    You can dump the latest model, she just doesn’t add anything, neither does Le Boufoon’s attitude. Alan Tudyk stole the show and as always was very funny. I can say this about your script, the audience laughed out loud many, many times during the viewing and Alan was fantastic. Please watch the Firefly series, Dodgeball or A Knight’s Tale for more of this one-day superstar’s hilarity. On this note, you guys are trying too hard and killing it…many of the parts the audience found laughable where really simple humor. I give you a C rating and hope in the future to see another T movie only next time with real character development and tragedy, you guys are almost on it with the emotional states presented by the robots facial characteristics and eyes; reallly right at the “wow” moment in movie history. Vic, you’ll be seeing me here a lot come July thanks man for hosting the impoverished critics opinions without you Hollywood may never get right.

    P.S. If you read this and agree lety me know by using the “WOW” signal in the T4, just acknowledge (like you did with Buzz appearing) who made that little piece of human history known or possible

    • …Wow, I must be extremely simple. I would have never gone as far as you did, sir. “McDonald version of movie making”, while I didn’t think it was comparable to Schindler’s List or even the swashbuckling goodness that was Pirates of the Caribbean, it wasn’t that bad. We can’t always please everyone, at a certain point in your career, or better yet Spielberg’s, you just have to appeal to the masses. I’m guessing you definitely sided with rotten tomatoes and the whomping 38% review they gave T3. You do have a good eye for criticism, I’ll give you that.

    • Listening to construction workers tear up a sidewalk is entertaining too:
      What? I can’t hear you?
      Look out!

      No, thank you. You can see all the effects in the trailer for free. As for the ticket price, what parent doesn’t see ‘Holly’s Woods’ as just a cheaper than minimum wage babysitter??? Dude, did you pay–or your Mom???

  4. Saw it last night. It’s definitely an improvement over the last movie (not that difficult to do) but I wouldn’t say it warrants a 4-star rating. The 4 stars seem justifiable when you’re thinking about how low people’s expectations were after Revenge of the Fallen, but as a standalone film it’s still pretty bad overall.

    Again, no character development. For both the humans and robots. I seriously don’t give a damn about Sam. And they have got to get rid of his parents. Seriously? The human drama aspect seems so petty with larger things going on. Sam does nothing except being in the right place at the right time.

    That said, the action was MUCH improved. Less blurry shots. More coherence. And the troops really really shine here. But that’s all the last 45 mins – one hour. It took an hour and a half of dragggggy parts just to get to that. I think it’s inexcusable. The battle scene could’ve been more fleshed out – things happened so fast I didn’t even notice when some bots died. Yet the preceding hour+ doesn’t do much to build the climax. Having Chicago become a warzone and showing us more of the alien-invasion-style war film that the last hour was would’ve been better – it would’ve been like Battle: LA but better and with bots. Sloppy writing here.

    3D was good. I’m not familiar though – am I right to say that it’s to convey depth rather than have things actually pop out at you? If so, then it really was good – the depth feels like real-life, so you don’t actually notice sometimes, meaning it’s not gimmicky. My problem however is that the 3D strained me so much that by the time the last hour came, I could barely watch for the strain. But that’s a personal problem. If you can handle 3D it’ll be worth it. I still prefer 2D because there’s less blur (and at time the action scenes are still VERY blurry, when the robots flurry around everywhere) but it’s better than last, I guess.

    John Malkovich stood out for me. That guy should be the main character. (I’d give it 2 1/2 stars, 3 max – if they’d just cut out the middle it would be 3 1/2-4. Just my opinion though, and I DO agree with almost all of Ben’s review, it’s pretty much spot-on :D)

    • Yes, that’s what I actually now like about 3D movies. Even if there aren’t any popping out effects, but the whole screen feels like it’s closer to you. I actually don’t like 2D movies now cos the screen looks too far away without the glasses, hehe. :D

  5. The 3D in this film was the best I’ve seen since Avatar, which I did not expect at all.

    Even more impressive when I read James Cameron’s Avatar 3D team actually worked on this film. That explains the awesome and beautiful depth and colour in its 3 Dimensions.

    Seriously, Transformers 3 was easily best film in the trilogy and possibly Bay’s best film.

    The only weak part was the ending, much like The Empire Strikes Back, it doesn’t end it just…stops. If this really was the final film, where was Sam’s happily-ever-after? Where was the closure? Where was the new house for Sam’s parents?

    A weak ending.

    But Alan Tudyk makes any project better!

  6. Seriously? 4 stars for this piece of s**t? My God!

    • Yes. This movie was great!

    • Yeah, I wondered about that too…It definitely didn’t deserve that many.

    • Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson would never proceed an epic battle prologue with the tracking shot of a models behind.

  7. Anyone realize that Nimoy, who played Sentinel Prime in Dark of the Moon, also was the voice for Galvatron, the main bad guy also in The Transformers the Movie (1986). I mentioned in another post that their should be a fourth installment where Unicron would be the focus and re-animate Megatron with a new body (Galvatron) and new minions, essentially sparking a deal with the devil, that would be pretty cool.
    BTW, just watched Dark of the Moon, and was by far the best of the series. Still way too over the top with more unbelievable plots and forced humour, also the ending was very abrupt. No closure what so ever, there almost definitely should be another film based on the way this one ended. However, this film was pretty epic and could be called the final one, just hate the way it ended. Decepticons die, the end.

  8. The thing I liked about this movie was that jokes were actually funny. In the past ones they were somewhat (I use that term loosely) inappropriate. People in the theatre were actually laughing at this one

  9. The effects were good eye candy, the story totally predictable blah… and the acting,lol bad. Good for 14 yrs old and down.

  10. oh and the flying squirrel seal team and the building sequence was pretty cool.

  11. was an insane movie, i go to the movies to be entertained. don’t know why everyone (ok not everyone) hates Michael Bay. *shrugs* Great movie…

  12. Last time Michael Bay suckers me out of my money.
    Effects where great. But that is it… John Malkovich was great. But his character was destroyed in his last scene… omg…

    What a boring final battle. The emo-moments where dull & predictable. And please stop using models as actresses. It does not work.

    I go to the movies to be amuse myself. But during the final hour, i just wanted it to be over…

    I am no Micheal Bay hater, but he does not even try to counter the critisism he gets. Explosion, explosion and more explosions, and in between a chicks leg, a chicks butt, and a chicks chest…

  13. Well, I said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m still not interested in this movie. Bay isn’t gonna sucker me out of my hard earned money, again. Oh, and as far as that gay apology (no offense) he gave was whack.
    “I’m sorry i screwed up TF2, it was the writer’s strike, but I’ve done better this time so go out and pay extra to see it in 3D”.
    If he was really sorry, he should’ve given away some free passes. And from what I see he succeeded in pulling the wool over some eyes once again. Whatever… I do like some Bay films, his best being “The Rock”, to me. I think he should’ve let it go after TF1. What good is spectacle with no story to grip you?

    • See, the thing is, no story is fine, okay, but even the spectacle here has no real weight. These robots jumping and shooting each other doesn’t feel like there’s some actual impact. Just keep transforming and jumping, that entertains the people, so they don’t try too hard to actually make it feel coherent.

      From your comment, I can tell you: Yeah, don’t go for this movie, you won’t like it. It’s not worth it..

      As for those who think we hate Bay, it’s not that we hate Bay, it’s just we don’t get so easily entertained if you just show us robots jumping around. It’s just our opinion.

      • if christopher nolan or james cameron directed the same movie, i guarantee you guys would go see it and give it a 10/10. just admit it, you guys just dont like michael bay.

        • Not really, I liked Transformers 1, The Rock, Armageddon, Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor was okay. So it’s not about hating michael Bay, it’s just about not liking a mess like Transformers 3. I don’t care about who directs, I care about how good the movie is. Michael Bay is one of my favorite action movie directors. But he failed with the last two Transformers films…

          • honestly, just see it before you start calling it “a mess”. Trailers really don’t do the film much justice.

            • sorry, please ignore that, wrong person :P

              • nevermind, trying to get used to this site, it was aimed at you

        • lotto…

          Nope, simply not true. This movie just had way too many problems to be considered good. I bring up quite a few of them in my comment in the Weekend Summary thread (actually, respond to YOU, as a matter of fact).

          • I thought it was a great movie, it did drag a bit but everyone hates this movie just because they either hate TF2 or Michael Bay (or just because Megan Fox isnt in it which is the most annoying excuse) I have been a fan of Transformers for 10 years and thought that this was the movie I have been waiting for my entire life of Transformers. Plus in 3D was just too amazing.


            • No…you WERE arguing with…Remember, I said I’m done.

              As for GL, I say it was great. TDotM, on the other hand, was entertaining but only while I was watching it. Unlike GL and many other films, it just didn’t impress me afterward.

              We have different opinions on the two films, which is fine by me.


        • if you think Nolan would put an onject roughly 1/5th size of earth less than the distance of the moon away from the earth surface and it not effect the Earth in anyway you are mistaken.

          I enjoyed this movie, but Bay plots can’t even be called weak they are so bad.

          I could continue to point out holes all day long, but I enjoyed the movie for what it was. I only posted this because Nolan is by far the most story driven director to date and Bay is on the other end of that spectrum.

          • So, you’re commenting on a movie about giant robots who transform into cars, and your problem with it is that the MacGuffin breaks a law of physics? You might as well just complain about the entire concept of Transformers then…

        • Dude I agree 100% with you.

    • I liked the comments on this site, they pull no punches. I had to look over Bay’s previous movie list and it is weak all the way down with Pearl Harbour being the biggest piece of ass in history, even The Rock is dubious. He should go back to making adverts, maybe for Chevrolet, Ferrari or thongs.

      • Here’s something he also reused, or was it an hommage?

        Sentinel Prime voiced by Leonard Nimoy saying:

        “the good of the many outweigh the good of the few”

        Right out of Star Trek 2 and by the same voice…LOL

        • … or perhaps the “Q” bot who appears in this movie whose job it is apparently to create high tech gadgets for the Autobots! Straight rip-off from the Jame’s Bond franchise. Oh, no wait it is “O.K.” because he is not an old man he is an old-looking man robot instead.


          • You say rip-off, I say homage.

          • It’s an homage. And he’s “man-looking” because his actual face had been ripped off in battle at some point. If I remember correctly, that’s actually Wheeljack, who’s a mechanic for the autobots in the cartoon. Maybe it’s a different one? I remember thinking during TF3 that his body looked just like a G1 character they hadn’t shown in the films previously.

  14. I thought Transformers 2 was maybe the worst big budget movie I’ve ever sat through, that is until I saw Transformers 3. Transformers 3 made me almost appreciate the greatness of Transformers 2. Transformers 3 is a chaotic, mind-numbing mess of a movie.
    .5/5 stars

  15. Not a fan of Transformers (never watched it on TV and never owned a toy). My wife likes the franchise so I go with as I did this third time. Big action, yes. Cool CGI, yes. Lame plot and dialogue, as always. More bored than the previous 2? Absolutely.


  17. I personally think that Bay ruined the third movie by not re-hiring Megan Fox, and embarrassed himself by basing this decision on childish drama. At the end of Revenge of The Fallen Sam and Mikaela confess their true love for eachother, and then in Dark of The Moon we’re supposed to just believe that she broke up with him and he’s ‘better off without her’? They saved the world together, twice! How can they just leave it without giving any reasonable explanation. Rosie does not compare to Megan and takes away from the plot as she is portrayed as a complication, and has no actual input. I also think that the fighting scenes, whilst extremely impressive, take up too much time and are boarderline rediculous, even for a sci-fi movie. I think I speak for most people when I say that having more human based scenes makes the film relatable and therefore more enjoyable! Overall I feel that the 3rd movie has destroyed the trilogy of great movies, and I will be blocking the last, and worst, out of my memory so that the euphoria of the first two can stay without being tainted by the utter disappointment of the last one. The plot did not flow into Dark of The Moon as there was no mention of crucial elements from the 2nd movie, such as Sam and Mikaelas break-up among others. I am truly disgusted with the 3rd movie, and also hurt, as a fan, to have this rubbish handed to us after years of supporting the brand.

    • Childish drama? That’s how the world works…you don’t have to look much further than today’s politics. Regardless, Megan Fox compared Michael Bay to Hitler on television. Try calling your boss Hitler and see if he doesn’t fire you.

  18. I walked out after the weird oriental guy unzipped his pants in the leads face in the men’s room. Too much sick stuff to put up with.

    • Wait, you walked out after about 20 minutes or so? Well done sir, not only did you give the studio money you denied yourself the ability to make creditable comments of hate for the movie.
      One down, a truckload of fanboy haters to go.

      • ahaha thats so true, why would any1 walk out beofre the hour long action scene let alone 20 min into the movie and have the nerve to say they didnt like it

  19. I thought that it was a great film, but I am hoping for a reboot in the next 3-5 years. Maybe directed entirely by Steven Spielberg? Written by Simon Furman??? That would cool.

  20. This is what I like about Screenrant staff, because they rate the movie about the same as I to, such as Green Lantern I strongly agreen with the 1.5, X-Men First Class another I highly agree a 3.5, Thor 3.5, Transformers: Dark of the Moon definatlet a 4 star movie especially in 3D.

    • Pretty sure Star Trek was J J Abrams and T3 was some clueless muppet

      • ChrisTypeR…

        “Star Trek” (the most recent one) was indeed J.J. Abrams…I don’t see where andi got T3 and TF3 mixed up…?


        I agree with the points you made in your “I didn’t like” section. As for all of the product placements, I don’t think ANYONE will really be surprised.

    • Andi,

      I probably would have gone a…. 3 or 3.5/5 tops.


        • Thanks, they were all posted within a 20 minute span of time. Got them all.


  21. Screenrant my favorite site gave Green Lantern 1.5stars and Transformers 3 4stars????The other critics slaughtered T3 as much as GL?????
    I really liked GL,went to see T3 twice but it was sold out,cant wait to see this movie and read the critiques.

  22. Just came back from watching the 3D version. It was okay good. Not good good but it was a nice watch. Some serious issues with the story and plotlines and plot holes. I’m still annoyed with the way the death of a certain person was handled and then ignored

  23. optimus has nothing to do or live for now.

    his jerk hand got cut off. he killed his biggest enemy and his mentor in the same minute. he doesnt have cybertron to go home anymore to when white folks get on his nerves.

    and now USA is gona send him to help out in IRAQ and afghanistan. ROFLMAO hahahaa

  24. transformers 3 was AWSESOME i dont care what any1 says, man im really hopn they do another 1. loved it!!!!!!

  25. How amusing that SR gives Transformers a 4/5 rating, while trashing Green Lantern… while Rolling Stone magazine declares Transformers the worst film of the year, beating out Green Lantern for the dishonor.

    • What does it matter if Roling Stone and SR have differing views on both films. It’s all subjective. IMO, both rocked.

  26. 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

    • DOTM was ok the last half of the movie was watchable,some good action and it was nice to see a more detailed set of Transformers getting screen time though they had less to say and do,the first part was a drag but had a few good moments,Transformers moments,I did not care much for the humans,which had me lagging at times,though in all fairness there was a few scenes I liked with them.I can’t wait for a Transformers movie with some real deal Transformers time(maybe on Cybertron).T3 was a balanced movie compared to the other two,balance in terms of Transformers and human time,the negatives has been stated already which I agree with most of what was said but it may also or can be overlooked,except for the chinese guy,WTF.