"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is the third feature in the robot trilogy. In terms of the title, did Pink Floyd have a problem with including "Side"? Anyways, the film sees director Michael Bay return to the helm, launching character Sam Witwicky (Shia Lebouf) into another global "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots" battle.
The picture opens going into a whole back story regarding the 'bots home planet, Cybertron - a craft carrying 'bot technology leaves the planet in the midst of a war between the opposing sides, and the craft crashes into the Moon. Detected by NASA, the US moon landing provides a cover to investigate.
Years later, the Autobots find out about the secret that was recovered from that mission, which includes their former leader, Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy.) By the time that the film has wound the Lebouf character back into the core story, the Autobots have found themselves betrayed, as the Decepticons return to use the technology in order to take over Earth in more epic fashion (and in more bizarre fashion, too: when their plans are actually revealed, it doesn't make a great deal of sense) then their prior attempts.
While it's implied that other cities are involved, the battleground of the film turns out to be Chicago, as Sam ventures into the city in an attempt to save his girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whitley), who has been taken captive by her boss (Patrick Dempsey of "Grey's Anatomy"), whose secret past has aligned him with the Decepticons.
The picture's first hour or so is largely Sam working his way through a corporation that turns out to provide a good opportunity for a bizarre John Malkovich cameo (John Tuturro also returns and once again appears to use the opportunity as an excuse to riff, mostly successfully) and not a whole lot else. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" offers a boatload of loud, large action sequences.
However, it also takes a good, long time to get going, and the picture is unnecessarily epic at 154 minutes. This is not "Transformers: Return of the King", and 120-130 minutes would not only be more than enough for this picture, I really don't believe that lifting at least 20 minutes out of this movie would prove difficult. Sam's parents return again, and the characters are around for several minutes in order to get a weak laugh or two - it's really unnecessary. Additionally, once the picture really gets rolling into the second half, all of the little story threads that were built in the first half really are thrown out the window.
The film's controversy was the replacement of Megan Fox, who has been awkwardly written out of the trilogy and replaced by Huntington-Whitley, who doesn't bring much personality to the table and who is given less of a character. She's not terrible and it's not entirely her fault, but she makes little impression and looks a little ridiculous when she stares into space as two giant robots nearly level Chicago behind her.)Her task in the film is really just to look like the Victoria's Secret model she plays in real life.
Technically, the picture is superb, with impressive effects work. The action sequences are thunderous and a bit exhausting after a while, but those who watch the picture for loud, thunderous and visually slick action sequences will get their fill throughout the second half of the epic picture. While certainly not a picture without flaws, the picture is still an improvement in terms of both story and action sequences over the second film.
A bit of "less is more" would have helped the picture, but "Transformers 3" still offers what audiences expect, and does so reasonably well.
VIDEO: "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon" is presented in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC). Sharpness and detail are exemplary, as the picture remained rock-solid and clarity was consistently terrific. The three-dimensionality of many of the scenes throughout the film is impressive; while the DVD was awfully nice, this Blu-Ray effort is a clear upgrade. While some minor grain is occasionally seen, it is an intentional element of the cinematography. Slight edge enhancement appeared in a couple of scenes, but the presentation otherwise remained problem-free. Colors looked deep and bold, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film's Dolby TrueHD 7.1 presentation is certainly a stunner, with a bold, high-intensity sound mix. Surrounds light up with gunfire, crashes and all manner of sound effects, and the result is a presentation that's tremendously enveloping and involving. Audio quality is magnificent, with tremendous low bass and crisp, well-recorded effects and dialogue.
EXTRAS: Zip. Surprising, given that Bay has previously provided commentaries for his other films.
Final Thoughts: "Transformers 3" manages to deliver solid action sequences once the film gets rolling in the second half. The picture runs long at 154 minutes, but delivers what audiences expect and is an improvement over the second film. The Blu-Ray edition boasts strong audio/video quality, but zip in the way of extras.
The Film B-