"Less is more" and "Always leave 'em wanting more" are silly anachronisms to a man with a 9-figure budget, 3D cameras and a world-class special effects team. Director Michael Bay's prevailing credo when it comes to filmmaking is always "More is more," and, as a result, "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon" is merely entertaining instead of actually good. But it is entertaining.
The plot, such as it is, centers on a race between the Autobots, who have joined the U.S. War on Terror, and the Decepticons, who have been licking their wounds and scheming, to get their hands on a piece of long-lost Cyrbertronian technology that crashed on the dark side of the moon some 50 years ago. Honestly, the less you concern yourself with the machinations of the plot, the happier you will be. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger clearly had some lofty aspirations about saying Something Important about post-Cold War geopolitics, but it gets lost amid all the crashing, exploding and shouting.
Oh, and the shameless objectification of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley does the film no favors.
The film's opening shot is of Huntington-Whiteley's derrière, poured into a pair of form-fitting underwear, as she ascends a flight of stairs. Later, there's a flashback to the moment where her character, Carly, first meets our hero, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), and as he approaches her his mother gushes, "What a gorgeous box!" Is it possible this is just an unfortunate coincidence? Sure, but it isn’t likely. Mercifully, Bay dials back the drooling significantly after this.
If you can get past these unfortunate moments, and all of Sam's whining about how he can't find a job, if you can hang on just long enough for the appearance of John Malkovich as titan of industry Bruce Brazos, you're in for an living, breathing cartoon adventure that pits Good against Evil in yet another battle for global domination.
Once Bay really gets the ball rolling, he holds nothing back, unleashing a magnificent array of robots, catastrophes, death-defying heroics, overwrought tragedy—all in beautifully rendered 3D--and cheesy music with clearly enunciated lyrics that cue the emotions you should be feeling. And it's a trip for about 90 minutes, the problem being that after that there's still another 30 to go. What Bay fails to realize is that the more times he pulls a rabbit out of a hat, the less magical it feels. No, he just keeps pulling that rabbit out again and again.
Malkovich's isn't the only great cameo, as Ken Jeong brings the mayhem yet again, this time as a conspiracy theorist who's on the trail of the secrets on the other side of the Moon; Frances McDormand as "Don't call me 'Ma'am" Mearing, the head of Military Intelligence; and John Turturro who returns for another whack-job turn as Simmons.
The only way to properly enjoy "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon" is to see it in the theater in 3D, preferably in IMAX, and just turn of your brain and kick back. Anything less and you'd be doing yourself and it a disservice.
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is previewing in select theaters Tuesday night, and opening worldwide on Wednesday.