Transformers: Dark of the Moon closes the trilogy in the most dramatic and stunningly possible way
To give you a gist of the plot is mainly tell what you know from the trailers: the long standing war between the Autobots and Decepticons over the control of Cybertron has long ago clashed with human history, and what could have been a decisive moment in saving that doomed planet is the real cause for the space war between the U.S. and Russia.
Megatron is now living in hiding while plotting, with the help of some humans, a way for the Decepticons to invade Earth and use it to save Cybertron's world.
Meanwhile Sam has a new girlfriend, Carly, and is although she's a gorgeous and lovely girl, he feels shadowed by her success and the fact that even though he helped save the world twice, can't seem to get a job. Like he points out, he wants to matter. And eventually, this time by his own decision, he gets trapped in the middle of a conflict that not only puts his new relationship in jeopardy, but could very well be the end of mankind.
While you can obviously tell that Transformers wasn't constructed as trilogy, Dark of the Moon feels like a closure in many ways. Sam has gone the opposite way from the kid in the last film, where he just wanted a normal life. Now that life just isn't enough for him. It's almost as he misses the life he had with Mikaela and wants a part of it back. He's finished college but can't get a job and the pressure comes from his desire to do something meaningful, be worth of Carly and don't let down his parents.
And while Rosie Huntington Whiteley is in my opinion a lot more beautiful than Megan Fox, her character is also a lot more meaningful and natural to the plot. You can tell she knows she looks great and has the money, but never lets any of that go over her head and she's sweet and lovely to Sam. She also doesn't want him to return to a life of danger.
Josh Duhamel is back as William Lennox, the leader of NEST, and he has grown in respect for the Autobots, even more than before but his character has grown very little over the course of the three films. The same cannot be said for Robert Epps, (Tyrese Gibson) who has retired from the military and wants to live a peaceful life, until Sam asks for help in rescuing Carly.
Another character that returns to help Sam is Simmons (John Turturro), who is now a wealthy writer of patriotic conspiracy books. After the events of the last film he knows what the stakes are and takes things more seriously, less pompous, but also never loses his excentricity. And he's not alone. He's got an aide named Dutch (Alan Tudyk) who is very skilled in fight and with computers and while I liked the character I think he got underused a lot.
But no actor was so badly wasted as John Malkovich, who plays Sam's first boss Bruce Brazos, another eccentric and weird character, kind of like his character in RED, but who never goes anywhere and disappears from the film without major notice.
Better treatment receives Frances McDormand who plays Charlotte Mearing, CIA Director, who appears to be a woman trying to be taken seriously too much, while Patrick Dempsey plays Dylan Gould, Carly's boss and who delivers a calculating and creepy performance later in the film.
Kevin Dunn and Julie White returns as Sam's parents, and their participation is short and luckily not as silly and over the top like in Revenge of the Fallen (yeah, they redeemed near the end), but also lacks the charm of the first film.
Optimus is still the wise and powerful leader of the Autobots, but the film gives him a chance to show doubt in himself and what he can do. The appearance of Sentinel Prime also is a reminder that he might not be the best leader the Autobots can have, but in the end he comes out stronger and more decided than before. Peter Cullen is excellent as always providing the voice for him an given the development of the character he gets to give a wider range than before.
Bumblebee has moved on like Sam wanted before and is working with NEST now, but obviously still cares about the boy and he can go as far as to sacrifice himself for him. No change here, still the lovable robot he always was.
The rest of the Autobots is rounded up with Ironhide and Ratchet, survivors of the previous films, joined by The Wreckers, a group of goons-like Transformers under the command of Optimus, and the little ones, Wheelie, a lot less annoying than before who is now joined by Igor. While I feared these last two would be played as an over-the-top comic relief, they only appear the necessary amount of time and their characters actually built to something.
While much of the marketing of the film pointed out Shockwave as the most important new non-human character, he's not quite so. He's scary alright and definitely means trouble every time he appears, from the surprising Chernobyl sequence to the invasion of Chicago. But he's shadowed totally by Sentine Prime, who couldn't have been better voiced with Leonard Nimoy himself. He gives the character a kindness, serenity and confidence enough that later builds to something even bigger. I can't say no more without giving away major spoilers.
Hugo Weaving also returns to voice Megatron, who this time, plays mainly in the shadows and only pops up here and there to cause trouble, all the while trying to control his invasion of Earth plan. He's also still hurt and resented of the nasty defeat he received from Optimus.
Dark of the Moon, despite some maybe-too-much weird characters, is a really serious film. The comedy everyone complains about is still here, but plays so little in the film that doesn't get to be all that distracting like before. Bay wanted something darker and it shows. There's an hour and a half of building characters and situations, which is were the silliness stays, because the long final sequence in Chicago, that last one hour is too fast and breathtaking that only takes pauses so we can get those "this is serious" Michael Bay moments.
The stakes are more real than ever, betrayal is abound, from both humans and aliens and we get the answer to the question asked by Optimus in the previous film, of what if the Autobots leave and the Decepticons don't.
The plot is well constructed so it makes sense that the story is intertwined with real world events, ranging from the space war to Chernobyl, given a nice touch with digital cameos by John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, all with a nice opening montage where real stock footage combines with new filmed sequences to give the sense of secrecy.
The special effects as usual since the first film are top notch and can't actually tell what is real and what is not, because apart from the Transformers themselves we got scenes at the moon and a nearly destroyed Chicago. Even if you don't like these films you can't deny they look too damn good.
Steve Jablonsky wrote the musical score once more and there are several new cues to identify the changes in the storyline. The Witwicky Theme has been replaced by another equally sounding goofy but fun cue for Bruce Brazos. The Autobots Theme plays very little this time but gets a nice variation in the scene where the Autobots are exiled from Earth. But the major new composition is the one for Sentinel Prime, that is perfect match for the Optimus Prime Theme. The action sequences get new more serious and ominously dramatic scoring this time.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the bigger, more explosive and visually impressive of the trilogy, but it also manages to get serious and dramatic. The performances for the most part are strong, and the character and relationships between the Autobots and Decepticons are more central to the story than before.
It's a nice fitting, and epic closure to what could be the last entry in the franchise by Michael Bay, the best of the trilogy and possibly one of the most best and most entertaining films of the year. Autobots, roll out!
Moviefy Grade: Must-See!