Monday, July 04, 2011

JayRo Watches - Transformers: Dark of the Moon

On Grantland last week, they ran a Chris Ryan piece where he defended Michael Bay. I probably appreciated it more than most, as I don't think that I have left a Michael Bay movie and thought "Wow, that was a waste of my time" or "Wow, that wasn't entertaining in any way." Maybe I just figured out the key to a Michael Bay movie earlier than most - you have to go in expecting a spectacle. Any sort of decent acting performance or three dimensional plot is a bonus. Even when a Bay film misses completely on the basics of filmmaking (ie plot and acting and proper framing of shots), it still works. (As a friend mentioned about Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: "Revenge of the Fallen was pretty bad, but hey, big robots and explodey. Can't fault that.")

All of this is build up to say that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the apex of Michael Bay's directing career. The plot is kind of nuanced (even if it can be boiled down to "Earth is being invaded by aliens"), the action scenes are incredible, and some of the visuals are amazing to behold. As well, you get Bay's music video-esque treatment of the female lead (in the first scene in present time, my friend suggested that it looked like a Victoria Secret's commercial, and he was right.) There are a lot of "humanizing" moments where a character delivers an inspirational speech to rally the troops and us to his side. You get many actors willing to mug for the camera, producing some memorable characters who you enjoy seeing on screen.. And yes, giant robots go explodey.

(I want to give the climax a shout out here - it gets set up earlier in the movie, but Bay allows you to forget it by putting about 30 minutes of pure action right after it.)

What was truly remarkable was how the 3D worked in this movie. While it didn't need the 3D (which really could be said for any movie, including Avatar) Transformers 3 uses 3D in the best way I have seen it used, except maybe Avatar. The difference between Avatar and Transformers 3 is tha Avatar used 3D to try to immerse the viewer in the planet's environment; Transformers 3 uses it seemlessly, so that it isn't a distraction but you know that it is there. It doesn't really use the cheesy "here comes an object flying at you" effect, instead it uses 3D to actually provide some physical depth to each scene which helps to provide some perspective on what is going on around the characters.

In all honesty, if there was ever going to be a film where Michael Bay received a best director nomination, this would be it. With that said, he isn't going to be nominated, but it is a remarkable achievment that he should be proud of.

I highly recommend Transformers: Dark of the Moon to those who can accept a movie that does not challenge them intellectually at all, or who like things that explode.

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