Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Transformers: Dark of the Moon review

2nd July, 2011

This post contains spoilers and gratuitous use of images of Rosie Huntington-Whitely, which is justified towards the end (I promise).

Transformers: Dark of the Moon starts off on the wrong foot. Attempting to hijack the moon landing to tell a false story is dubious at best, but misleading on some of the core facts is quite unforgivable. For example, while it is true the Moon has a “dark” and a “light” side, the same areas of the Moon are in perpetual respective light and darkness due to the curious coincidence that the Moon rotates with the same period that it orbits the Earth. The net result is that the Moon always presents the same “face” to the Earth. Additionally, Apollo 11 landed on the Sea of Tranquillity, which is nowhere near the dark side - it is basically impossible that the Apollo 11 astronauts could have made such a journey.

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I won’t say it again: spoilers.

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Pedantic astronautics aside, there are some upsides to the film. I am a sucker for robots (obviously) and there is by no means a lack of them in this movie. Director Michael Bay has enhanced the detail of the effects which were pretty meticulous the first few times round it has to be said. This conveys well on the big screen and in 3D, which was no doubt a rendering nightmare for the techies behind the scenes. However I got tired of the robot fights towards the end, and while things like a snake-like drilling robot climbing a skyscraper and snapping it in two is very cool, the robot-on-robot action towards the end seemed unimaginative and very more-of-the-same. There are only so many ways that two gigantic megatrons can destroy each other, it turns out.

On to by far and away the largest issue with the film - the use of Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley (see below).

Not that I take issue with Ms. Huntingdon-Whiteley herself, of course. However, her role in the film - basically as little more than something to keep the guys entertained during the somewhat tedious opening third or so - doesn’t do much for the film nor the overall image.

The sheer fact of the matter is that up until about a quarter to a third of the way through the film, nothing that interesting happens. It’s basically back-story padding guff that could be done without. Even the people I was watching it with noted that the gratuitous use of Ms. Huntingon-Whiteley’s “assets” over-did it a bit.

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I did some research and found out that this is Rosie’s first film. Not first major film, nor first feature film, not first not-straight-to-video film - her first film, ever. When Megan Fox didn’t sign on for this edition, Michael Bay picked her because she worked with him on a TV ad for Victoria’s Secret (which she has done a lot of modelling for).

Fortunately, lack of acting experience isn’t an issue for the role she was playing. It consisted primarily of waltzing around showing some skin, wearing extremely skimpy clothing and getting up close and personal with Shia LaBeouf (she must have been paid pretty well). Lines were limited, and it is easy to see why she was hired for curves and her ability to walk in ridiculous heels.

So what about the film overall? Meh. Yes the visual effects and the robots were stunning and engaging. The shooting bits reminded me a bit of Battle: Los Angeles, but nowhere near as good. The entire first half of the film could have been missed out and I wouldn’t have felt sleepy towards the end. Over-use of Huntingdon-Whiteley grew tiring pretty quickly as it became apparent she was not hired for her deep character portrayal abilities, but rather the shape of her shadow.

I did like the two little robots though, they were pretty fun.

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(Slightly less appropriately cropped version)