Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Time Out says
Dir. Michael Bay (2011). Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey. Opens: June 30
The tone is set for this third – and hopefully final – episode in the tiresome toy-based franchise somewhere around the fifth minute. It’s then that a bracing, pacy intro explaining how the entire American space programme was a cover for an alien fact-finding mission gives way to a grotesque, leering up-the-skirt shot of new leading lady Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s backside. From there, it follows the same template as the first two films: 90 minutes of near-unwatchable plot filler, bad slapstick, dubious racial stereotypes and crude softcore followed by a solid hour of indistinguishable shiny objects smashing into each other while their faceless human counterparts run about shouting ‘Go!’.
Football-faced fratboy Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is called back into action to save the world for a third time when a crashed Autobot spaceship is discovered on the Moon, causing exiled villain Megatron to come out of hiding and restart the Transformer war. The rest of the plot is all but impossible to follow, but it has something to do with teleportation, invasion and the enslavement of the human race.
A fairly annoying but mostly forgettable presence in the first two films, LeBeouf has graduated to full-on liability, his shrieking, barking, berserker performance just one of many inexplicable elements in this shouty, infuriating film. But he’s Laurence Olivier next to Huntington-Whiteley, whose blank, pouty turn as Sam’s new squeeze makes one long for the good old days of Megan Fox.
‘Dark of the Moon’ isn’t totally unbearable. Cameos from the likes of Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey and even Buzz Aldrin prove amusing distractions, and there’s a solid action sequence set in a toppling skycraper. But mostly this is fairly agonising: long, loud, lurid and lacklustre. Tom Huddleston