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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
I saw Transformers 3: MacGuffins and Destruction Galore over the weekend. It had some pretty transcendent special effects, which is to be expected (the first and second films still look great). Filmed with the same 3D technology as Avatar, the 3D shots were pretty great too, if a bit sparse. The action really comes together in the Chicago scenes, and Bay brings the best work of his career with him here. Unlike the first two films, there’s not as much to trash here as might be expected.
The acting is still lousy, anchored once again by Shia’s manic schtick. Thankfully, his parents (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) are marginalized further in this film. Bay must have listened to his detractors. Megan Fox has famously been replaced by Julie Huntington-Whatshername, but she gives a pretty boring performance and isn’t asked to do much (at least until the third act). Dare I say it, Fox may have been even better in the role as she at least brings something of a “bad ass rebel” quality to her acting, particularly in her Transformers roles.
The robots look pretty fantastic, especially Sentinel Prime (voiced by the amazing Leonard Nimoy, whose work here is fantastic). Damaged Megatron also looks fantastic. He has tiny repair-robots constantly crawling around his body, which makes it look as if he is covered in parasites. It’s pretty amazing-looking over all. Some of the second-tier robots, like Ratchet and Starscream, are pushed to the side in this film, as it’s really about the triumvirate of Optimus-Sentinel-Megatron. New additions to the Autobot squad are a trio of Aussie-sounding bots, and they work surprisingly well. They’re definitely an improvement over the ice cream twins in the second film. The plot is pretty ridiculous, but again that’s to be expected.
The Chicago action set-piece is worth the price of admission for this film. As noted earlier, Bay does his most impressive work here. The siege of Chicago is anchored by an amazing scene of a collapsing office building surrounded by Decepticons. The 3D effects here are amazing. The 3D cameras have also helped reign Bay in, as the number of annoying, jumpy “cut shots” have drastically gone down in number.
I am known somewhat as a defender of the Transformers films and Michael Bay in general. I think moviegoers need Michael Bay. He brings out the inner 12 year old boy in me. After watching these movies, I can’t help but want to smash toy robots together heroically and hum the theme song in my head. There’s something about the Transformers franchise that I can’t put my finger on. These are not good movies at all, but damn they are good summer fun.