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Transformers: Dark of the Moon(2011)
The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets, which could turn the tide in the Transformers' final battle.
For more about Transformers: Dark of the Moon and the Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray release, see Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 20, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Patrick Dempsey (I)
» See full cast & crew
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray Review
Sluggish stretches and diluted but still-present comic relief threaten, but don't ruin, an exciting Action spectacle.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 20, 2011
In the name of freedom, we take the battle to them.
Fans figuratively declared war on Director Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for its excess bad humor, loose plot, and general mindlessness. That picture got everything buts its special effects and action-as-spectacle wrong, unlike its predecessor which emphasized not only the "wow" factor but its plot, too, while downplaying, but not eliminating, its comic relief. Bay's willingness -- or lack thereof -- to tone down or eliminate completely all of the goofiness that made Revenge of the Fallen such a drag of a picture was foremost in fan's minds leading up to the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, perhaps even more so than the film's plot, its place within the trilogy, and maybe even the absence of star Megan Fox from the movie. How did Bay respond? Dark of the Moon is nearly everything a Transformers movie should be, at least as the franchise exists in Bay's skilled hands. The movie has its problems -- namely an overly long first half -- but once the action gets going, there's no stopping it. Dark of the Moon is hands-down one of the absolute greatest movie spectacles of all time. It's not an all-time great movie, of course, and it's not even quite as good as the original, but in terms of sheer entertainment value, seamless and absolutely believable special effects, total audio immersion, and pure fun factor, it's an unequivocal success.
Who knew a government project could be built around secret and ulterior motives? It turns out such was just the case in the space race. Upon learning that a mysterious alien vessel crash landed on the moon, President John F. Kennedy ordered American astronauts to that celestial body's surface before the Soviets could do the same. Soon, Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin discover the remnants of the vehicle and several massive robotic occupants. Years later, back on Earth, the Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), serve as warriors defending mankind from its most dangerous enemy: itself. They're called to the radioactive ruins of Chernobyl to investigate the suspected presence of alien technology. There they find evidence of the ancient Cybertronian vessel known as the Ark which carried precious cargo: both the former Autobot leader Sentinel Prime as well as several electronic "pillars" that were to serve as a gateway between Cybertron and another world. The Transformers travel to the moon and recover both their leader and the pillars, but lurking in the shadows, watching every move, and anticipating the Autobots's actions are the Decepticons, led by the battered Megatron (Hugo Weaving), that are once again scheming to take control of Earth. Meanwhile, recent college grad Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has a new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), but not a new job. Despite his familiarity with the Autobots and his hero status, he can't find work and, to make matters worse, his parents (Julie White and Kevin Dunn) are coming to town and are sure to admonish his lack of employment. Fortunately, Carly's put in a good word for Sam, and her boss Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey) is all too happy to employ him. But there's never a dull moment in the life of Sam Witwicky, and sure enough the recent Autobot discovery of their former leader and the radically advanced pillars -- not to mention a few other surprises coming Sam's way -- just might work into a devious plot that could spell the end of mankind.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a tale of two movies. There's the slog of a first half and the dark, violent, exciting, and adrenaline-overloaded second half. The first half isn't a total waste. There's some critical back story, some necessary exposition, a few Transformers-standard action scenes, and several character introductions, but there's also a bit of unnecessary bad humor, a bit too much exposition, and what is sometimes an overwhelming listlessness that's more prone to put viewers to sleep than get their blood pumping into overdrive. That's countered by several scenes where things develop almost too fast and the visuals spin around almost too quickly. It definitely lacks balance, even if all of the first half seems, in essence, as if it is in and of itself a much larger counterbalance to the incessant action that defines the film's second half, for even in a movie like this two-plus hours of nonstop action would be too much. The core Transformers story as it is constructed and furthered here is quite involved, very interesting, and a pleasure to watch unfold, but it's slowed down and lessened by needlessly long stretches where only a sliver of information requires minutes upon minutes of random nothingness to become revealed. The pacing is further hindered by forced comic relief, but as noted it's nowhere near as nauseating or even offensive as it was in Revenge of the Fallen. It's almost as if someone high up on the Transformers food chain demanded the movie clock in at about 150 minutes, resulting in far too much stuff -- on both ends of the movie -- that just isn't necessary. That's really the movie's main problem in a nutshell. It's too much of just about everything.
Then there's the dizzying destruction and robot-on-robot slaughter that defines the second half. Who knew Transformers "bled?" There's a whole lot of "bloodshed" as Autobots and Decepticons shoot, stab, and rip one another to shreds. It's the ultimate showdown and takes place on an epically large scale. The second half is basically Transformers meets 2012. Buildings crumble and explode, people are killed by the hundreds, and general chaos reigns. It looks like some high dollar alien invasion movie, which ultimately it really is, but this is very well-produced and epically-apocalyptic stuff. It's as grim as a PG-13 rating permits, as hopeless as the imagination allows it to be, as physically fatiguing as a movie may make one feel. Dark of the Moon practically places audiences in the middle of one of the most chaotic hours of action movie ever created. The strict attention to detail is nothing short of startling, too. From the tiniest piece of background debris all the way to the realism that makes up the robots, there's absolutely nothing left to the imagination, save, of course, for the true level of human carnage and suffering that would most certainly be evident in such a situation. Nevertheless, it's all perfectly seamless. It's an awe-inspiring display of digital trickery and technological advancement, leaving audiences to wonder just how it could -- and no doubt will -- be topped in the future, not to mention the possibilities in different applications. It's at once both exciting and chilling to imagine. Michael Bay is at his personal best in this stretch, too. For as energetic and chaotic as the action may be, his camera seems to always be in just the right place, capturing the excitement in such a way as to only further enhance its effective assault on the senses. He may take a lot of flak -- some of it maybe justified, some of it perhaps no so much -- but there's absolutely no denying his pure skill as an Action filmmaker. Transformers: Dark of the Moon's final, extended Action scene will go down as one of the best ever created.
The common theme that runs through the movie, and that was alluded to above, is the absolute precision with which Michael Bay's vision of Transformers is brought to life. The movie is literally packed with breathtakingly gorgeous displays of technical wizardry that's so real, so convincing, that even Avatar should be in awe. Unfortunately, the movie more often than not moves by a little too fast and makes it difficult to truly appreciate the level of digital craftsmanship involved, but there are those few scenes where things slow down, the camera lingers on a robot, and the true scope of each one comes into focus. Battle damage, dents, scratches, and the intricacy of the moving internals never cease to amaze, and that these creations are so smoothly and naturally integrated into real-world environments is nothing short of breathtaking. That's held true through the whole series, but Dark of the Moon even manages to improve on the other two films in that regard. Otherwise, Dark of the Moon proves to be a rocky ride but ultimately one worth taking. The plot -- when it's not taking far too long to reveal -- is surprisingly good and there are several twists and turns that will take audiences off-guard. The acting is nothing special but is certainly adequate, though the performances of the film's primary and secondary characters -- even by series newcomers like Patrick Dempsey, Alan Tudyk, John Malkovich, and the venerable Frances McDormand -- are simply overshadowed by the digital effects. Not to worry, though, that's exactly what the movie should be: a parade of special effects that break new ground with every click of the mouse, every save to the hard drive. Ultimately, the big winner here is the audience. It's a relief that this entry bests its predecessor. It could have been better, sure, but this is a marked improvement over Revenge of the Fallen. Everyone now, a big sigh of relief, and in harmony, please.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray, Video Quality
Transformers: Dark of the Moon makes for one good-looking Blu-ray. Shot partially on film and partially on digital, different scenes feature different textures but the end results is a single pristine image that runs the entire course of the movie. The filmed segments feature a beautifully textured light grain structure that never fluctuates. The digital scenes are noiseless wonders that are smooth but neither flat nor devoid of detailing. In fact, there's never one shot in the movie that isn't perfectly detailed. Whether real or digital -- human faces, clothes, rubble, intricate robotic pieces, frayed and broken metal objects, scratches and dents, or common little background elements like the texture of a brick wall or paint flaking off an old door -- there's no shortage of glorious eye candy to be seen throughout. Colors, likewise, enjoy a natural vibrancy that's reserved for only the finest Blu-ray images. The red, yellow, silver, and other bright colors seen on cars that appear throughout the movie are nothing but a pleasure to behold; they couldn't look any shiner and true-to-life if they were being viewed in the real-world on the showroom floor. Flesh tones do take on a serious bronze shading, but such has been the case throughout the entire series. Black levels are absolutely flawless, too. No crush, no hint of gray, just solid and natural in every dark corner. Clarity is out-of-this world good, and there's a natural depth to the image, evident even without the added dimension for the 3D presentation. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the pinnacle of Blu-ray video. Incorporating both film and digital, it's the best of both worlds and a reference-quality transfer for both mediums.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray, Audio Quality
No surprise here. Transformers: Dark of the Moon delivers one of the finest lossless soundtracks ever to grace a Blu-ray disc. Paramount's Dolby TrueHD 7.1 presentation is a true champion. Every musical note, every sound effect, every line of dialogue is so pristine, so natural, that there's never a moment where the audience isn't completely immersed in Michael Bay's chaotic world. The movie begins with a heavy pulsating electronic sensation as the Paramount stars fly on by and through the screen. The clarity, separation, and precision spacing and maneuvering of each one is second to none, and the real fun hasn't yet begun. Music is impeccably rich and satisfying. Its frontal delivery is seamless across each main channel, supported by just the right level of surround speaker activity. Atmospherics are naturally immersive as well. Light rain and a clap of thunder play in the background during Sam's first scene in the movie. It'll leave listeners believing it's the real mccoy. Minor directional effects are startlingly effective, too. One scene features a robotic character throwing an object towards the screen, and then it rattles around upon impact right in the back-middle part of the soundstage, just one instance proving the utility of the additional surround speakers. Needless to say, however, the real treat comes during the action scenes. Goodness, when did home theater audio get this good? Transformers has never been about raw volume, and Dark of the Moon is no exception. The film and its soundtrack instead strive for accuracy, stability, naturalism, and immersion over absolute power. Sure the low end rattles and bass rumbles, but it's the spacing, clarity, and perfect maneuvering of each and every sound, no matter how prominent or how tiny and supportive in nature, that make this one a real success of sound engineering. Everything plays in absolute harmony together, and the result is action so immersive, so real, that every sound -- whether familiar real world effects or make-believe robotic creaks, rattles, and rumbles -- comes together to create what is one of the finest surround sound experiences of all time.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Transformers: Dark of the Moon contains no supplements, but included in the package is a promotional $10 coupon towards the purchase of the upcoming Blu-ray 3D release which should include the bonus content fans crave. This set does include a DVD copy of the film on a second disc as well as a redemption code for a downloadable digital copy which, unfortunately, was unaccessible from Paramount's digital copy website at the time of publication.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Transformers: Dark of the Moon bests Revenge of the Fallen in every way imaginable. The movie's first half threatens to bore the audience to death -- there's just too much filler -- but it's nothing but pure adrenaline the rest of the way. Bay responds to his critics with a movie that's more in-line with what the series promised to deliver in the first place: giant special effects robots doing battle, causing ungodly amounts of damage, and devastating theaters with some of the most immersive audio ever to accompany a motion picture. The movie is far from perfect, of course, but Bay took heed of the feedback and made a bigger, far more comically toned-down, but certainly not leaner picture. It's still excessive and too long at two and one-half hours, but it moves by very fast once the action begins to dominate the movie. Simply put, there's no greater example of 21st century special effects and movie spectacle as this. It's a very fun ride that's well worth taking, all its other flaws be damned. Paramount's Blu-ray release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon delivers flawless video and audio -- did anyone expect less? -- but no extras. An upcoming 3D re-release promises supplements, and fans on a budget will have to weigh their choices carefully. However, for those who don't want a 3D copy and who couldn't care less about extras, this disc is as good as it gets. All others would probably be best served with a rental and pre-ordering the bigger set once it appears on Amazon.
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Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway - Transformers: Dark of the Moon - September 26, 2011
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, starring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel and Frances McDormand. The Blu-ray edition arrives ...
• Transformers: Dark of the Moon Blu-ray (Updated w/Battle Zone App) - September 21, 2011
Paramount Home Entertainment will release Transformers: Dark of the Moon on Blu-ray this month. The third installment in director Michael Bay's action series follows Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) as he and the ...
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