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On Finally Watching “Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon”

No. Look. A lot of bad things happened here. Things we can learn from. And the whole interchangeable-hot-women thing is not important. It’s a movie about toy cars. It’s not “Albert Nobbs,” or anything.

The whole damn movie should have been set in the past. It was an opportunity to free the franchise from Shia, and now it’s too late. Right? The whole, whole thing should have been set in the immediate aftermath of the moon landing, everyone should have been dressed like Ed Harris in Apollo 13, the epic battles should have been in the middle of New Mexico, cute nods to Roswell and nuke testing, everyone dies or is sworn to secrecy, and it doesn’t have to cause problems for Transformers 1. Cast anyone you want, cast CHRISTINA HENDRICKS if you want to, make a fun retro awesome action movie, done. Not this. And you KNOW the guys who made the trailer understand that, because the entire trailer is in the past.

We’re supposed to be surprised that Shia can’t find a job? Who would hire him? His single achievement to date is knowing there are aliens, and now everyone knows about aliens. It’s not even like he’s the kind of action star that can drive really, really well, so you watch the movie and think “oh, man, you know, I guess I would have flipped my Jeep taking that turn, so he might as well make twelve million dollars a picture.”

The cars drive themselves. There is actually a scene in which Shia is sitting like a pathetic ride-moocher in the back of Bumblebee, who at LEAST is not one of the racist Autobots, and Bumblebee is driving himself, and Shia whinily yells “Shoot him! Shoooot himmmm!” as Bumblebee tries to fend off Decepticons.

AH YES, DECEPTICONS. It’s not the moviemakers’ fault that “Autobots” is a stupid name, or anything, or that one kind of hears “Autobots” and thinks they’re the bad guys until someone actually says “Decepticons” out loud to remind you. But it absolutely IS their fault that you can never tell whether you are watching an Autobot battle a Decepticon or two Autobots battling because one has sold out to the Decepticons, because they all look the same and have similar voices and the screen is just this writhing mass of twisted metal and tiny pinpoint-sized eyes while highway overpasses are being trashed all around you.

Now, let’s talk about actors who think they are too good to do their best.

John Malkovich. Frances McDormand. Get over yourselves! We all get that Malkovich spends 99% of his time complaining about taxes and wearing velvet smoking jackets and talking about brown liquors and Georges Seurat, or whatever, but then he’s supposed to show up for the 1% and BE A DELIGHT, right? He barely stands up in Transformers 3. He just acts like he hates Shia, which is correct and adequate, but also not really enough. Frances McDormand, though! She is a national treasure, and she is barely, barely phoning it in. If you think you are too good to get paid a zillion dollars to act mad in front of a green screen, stay home. Really.

You know why we know you’re not doing your best? John Turturro had the same stupid script and managed to be a delight.

Badly done, Emm[ichael Bay]a. Badly done.


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