Plot: Sam (Shia LeBeouf) has saved the world multiple times, commands robotic allies, and scores super hot girlfriends, but as his exploits are classified, he is unable to find even entry level position work. His parents don’t seem to care that he has risked his life and battled robots, as he is a loser to them unless he finds a job, even though his current girlfriend seems quite affluent. Meanwhile, Optimus Prime and his fellow Autbots plan to unearth long dormant robotic overlord Sentinel Prime and reclaim some pillars, but the pesky Decepticons lurk in the shadows. Some humans are also tiring of the robots being so deeply involved with defense operations, which leads to tension against even Optimus and his friends. Will this shaky political scene lead to even stronger bonds or devastation like mankind has ever seen?

Entertainment Value: This third installment in Michael Bay’s Transformers marks an improvement over the abysmal Revenge of the Fallen, but those improvements are minor at best. As with the previous movies in this series, Dark of the Moon is slow and bloated, running over two and a half hours, but without enough depth to fill a television episode. This is evident in a long, drawn out first half that goes nowhere, while the last half hopes a torrent of generic robots fighting in mediocre CGI battles will be enough to distract audiences. I did appreciate the disaster movie style moments that spring up, but not enough to suffer through the rest of this mess, which is uninspired and stretched way too thin. At least the terrible jokes are toned down, but the action scenes remain just as bland and ADD driven as ever. Which is a shame, as some of the scenes show potential as fun action sequences, only to be undermined by constant cuts and inneffective camera tricks. The main issue however is a dull narrative that is loaded down with filler, but few bright spots. I would be interested to see leaner versions of these movies, perhaps 80 or 90 minute cuts could be fun to watch.

The effort to put Transformers into historic events is hilarious here, though not as ridiculous as it would be in The Last Knight. As cheese laden as the approach is, the movie doesn’t push it into wild directions and lets the premise disappear within the usual Transformers mess. I don’t mind a serious, dark narrative, but if you have a lame duck story like Dark of the Moon, at least try to make things fun or memorable, instead of bland. After she put the Transformers on blast as terrible movies, Megan Fox was removed from the cast, but a lot of familiar faces return here. Shia LeBeouf turns in the same performance as in the first two movies, which is mediocre and forgettable, matching the overall picture. John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, and Josh Duhamel return in prominent roles, while a ton of skilled talent is brought in to elevate the weak script, but they can only do so much. Frances McDormand is wasted, while Patrick Dempsey, John Malkovich, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are first timers in this one, but none of them are given much of a chance to shine.

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