Transformers: Dark of the Moon review
Dark of the Moon - Light of the Franchise


Director: Michael Bay | Writer: Ehren Kruger

Dark of the Moon is the third instalment into the Transformers franchise. Directed by Michael Bay, the film is set in the current day and succeeds the events of the second film.

Sam Witwicky has now graduated college and is still unable to find a job. He lives in Washington D.C, with his new girlfriend; Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whitley) and 2 small Autobots. The rest of the Autobots still work with the NEST team hunting down any remaining Decepticons and helping the humans with any general suspicious incidents.

The plot is clearly divided into two sections; the first being the introduction where we catch up with the current actions of the main protagonists and the tension begins to build. The prologue raises some mystery which runs continuously through the first half of the film adding to the climatic tension that eventually explodes over the screen in a mess of awe-inspiring visual effects and clever camerawork to tell a story of triumph and survival.

Along with Sam Witwicky we see the return of many familiar faces such as Seymour Simmons (John Turturro) and Chief Epps (Tyrese Gibson). Sam has a new girlfriend which means no Megan Fox this film, but the change in ‘Damsel in Distress’ is a welcomed difference, and allows the story to take turns that can only be achieved through a level of naivety from Sam’s girlfriend.

The return of regular characters allows the story to be a natural progression from the previous two films and makes for an overall immersive experience which the viewer can relate to.

Overall the visual effects are delivered perfectly which is something you have come to expect from a Transformers movie. The cityscapes and landscapes are extremely detailed and beautiful and go a long way to give the sense of a modern and realistic world. The Transformers themselves, on the most part are very convincing and you almost never dispute the fact that a 30” robot is running around a city tearing buildings apart. However the word ‘almost’ draws me into my first and most poignant criticism of the film; on occasion you suddenly become very aware that the Transformers are not actually there.

There appears to be a strong contrast, in sections, between the Transformers and the background which almost demands the eye to realise a green-screen effect regarding the reality of the Transformers. I’m not sure if this is a result of watching a film intended for a 3D release in a 2D format, but I couldn’t help but feel slightly cheated the two or three times this happened. I never thought I’d ever say it; but maybe 3D would’ve been the better format, at least in regards to the smooth blending of visual effects blending in with the basic footage.

Despite this minor problem, which doesn’t really destroy the film, but more annoys; the visual effects are amazing and really help create an immersive film which will leave you gripped from start to finish. From giant skyscrapers being cut in half to Neil Armstrong strolling across the moon; everything seems very real and plausible
There’s just one other problem I have with this film; advertising. I’m not sure if it’s because I looked a bit more deeply into this movie but I couldn’t help but notice the sheer amount of advertising! Not really a problem, more of an observation.

In addition to the visual feast; sound plays a big part in the final production of the film. The sound effects of the Transformers, well, transforming is an extremely electronically sound which makes your spine tingle. Helping to understand that the Transformers are an alien race the sound is unlike anything earthly and adds to the atmosphere. You hear the sound and you share a sense of apprehension with the characters on screen.

The soundtrack fits perfectly with the overall tone of the film, with the tracks adding to the plot divide. The first section is mainly comprised of acoustic tracks with lyrics and soft tones, whereas the second section reflects the chaos and confusion with a heavy focus on orchestral tracks in a minor key. The harsh tones and rapid tempo add to the atmosphere and create a real sense of panic and disorientation.

The use of camera worked particularly well within the second half of the film. With experimental camera angles, such as along the barrel of the gun and fast cuts a real sense of panic is created. The non-diagetic sound adds to this to create an all round distorted atmosphere, allowing you to feel the tension of the battlefield making the film an overall immersive experience. There is a clear contrast to the beginning of the movie here, which featured cleaner, smoother cuts to an altogether different soundtrack.

The actors did a great job and I didn’t for one minute question the reality of what I was seeing. Each character bought its own personality into the film to give it a diversity of people, forced into one situation. Similarly; the voice acting for the Transformers is spot on, giving each machine a personality.

Overall Dark of the Moon is a very good film with just a minor visual fault that is easily overlooked. The plot is divided into two very clear sections which is supported by the soundtrack, camerawork and editing. In regards to the plotline it’s a nice change to see the story take a peek back into the past to fuel the future – not a complete prequel but merely a referencing to events prior to the first instalment of the series.

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