A strange, alien spaceship is discovered on the dark side of the moon. A spaceship which harbours a secret important to the future of the Autobots as well as their arch enemies the Decepticons. So the race is on as the Autobots battle to thwart the Decepticons, and stop them taking over the one thing they need to carry out their evil plan for universal domination - the human race! (A rather simplistic synopsis I know, but what do you expect? We are after all, talking about a film whose whole premise is based around robots which turn into cars!)
The latest instalment (and unlikely to be last) in the Transformers movie franchise, is heavy on crash, big on bang, but light on wallop!
I had never seen a Transformers film before this one, which placed me at a slight disadvantage where plot and characterisation were concerned. However as the film is not heavy on plot, and almost non-existent on characterisation, this minor indiscretion on my part did not greatly effect my overall enjoyment of the film, which was actually great fun in a numbing sort of way.
Nothing much in the way of action (which is after all what you've come to see) happens during the first half or so of the film. This lean period involves what I suppose is meant to pass as an introduction to the characters and their relationships. However as this consists mainly of Sam (adequately portrayed by Shia 'how do you pronounce his surname?' LaBeouf) feeling downtrodden and threatened by everyone, from his parents and his new boss Bruce (a wonderfully creepy turn from John Malkovich), to his girlfriend Carly (played surprisingly well by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley - I bet the Americans love her surname) and her employer Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), the obligatory smooth, mega rich and ultimately dastardly human villain of the piece, who tries to side with the invading aliens only to find that everyone, human and alien, are against him by the end, this aspect of the film's a bit pedestrian.
It's when the aliens attack Chicago (refreshing that its not New York for a change) during the climax that things begin to pick up, and you actually get what you've come to see. Imploding glass towers, exploding metalwork and a giant coiling snake, which looks like a mechanical version of the monsters from Tremors, are enough to quell any misgivings that you might have felt cheated during the first hour and a half of the film.
The film's numbingness comes in a two pronged attack, both visually and physically. Visually in that the whole film looks like one long advert for pristine, clinical living. Even the dirt and rubble left once Chicago has been virtually razed to the ground by the warring robots, has a bohemian, artistic assemblage. As for Sam and Carly's loft like apartment. Let's just say if that's how unemployed Americans live I'm moving Stateside pronto!
The physical attack comes from the length of the film. At 2 hrs 37 mins, I was starting to feel distinctly dead from the waist down, and felt that losing half an hour would not have made a lot of difference overall, but would have left me more comfortable by the end. It seems that modern film makers believe in quantity over quality (sometimes you get both, but not often), though I guess if you're paying your stars the gross national income of a small country you want to get your money's worth.
As I said at the beginning Transformers: Dark of the Moon is great fun, even if it doesn't provide quite as much wallop as you'd have hoped for. There was only one question I had by the end. How did Ms Huntington-Whiteley manage to make it make it through all the wreckage in vertiginous stilettos and a virtually pristine white jacket. Must be the supermodel in her.
Expected Rating: 7 out of 10
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon is out now.