Wednesday, June 29, 2011

9 Stars - TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON Advanced Review

There are no spoilers in this review, but you are free to discuss anything you wish about the movie in the comments section below.

Click on the images to enlarge.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON has the best 3D and action movie I have seen to date. Staggeringly well done and a must see in stereoscopic 3D. NINE STARS!

While I technically have DARK OF THE MOON (86.43/100) trailing slightly behind another action movie - THOR (88.6/100), that is only because of some issues with story and characters - NOT the visuals. If you want an entertaining and at times jaw dropping summer popcorn experience, DARK OF THE MOON is it. Michael Bay has set the bar at its current peak. Nothing has been better to date including AVATAR. As you probably know by now, it was shot with the same technology (only upgraded!).

I am ecstatic to say that the issues with bright light and native 3D have been solved - at least with this movie. It could very well be that the scenes that Bay captured with the bright sun beaming into the camera lens were converted (he did do a small portion of the movie with conversion). All I know is, the bright light hazing phenomenon is gone. In fact we are left with gorgeous lens flaring in 3D which is a genius way of adding the effect of something coming at you that is not considered startling, but to the contrary - gorgeous natural lighting! My hearty applause for that Mr. Bay!

However, there were issues with characters and story unfortunately. NOT as much trouble as with TRANSFORMERS 2 mind you! Not nearly as much. There is actually almost a very compelling character in Sentinel Prime that I was quite pleased with indeed. I say almost because so much more could have been done. Still it was a pleasure to see something develop on the screen regarding characters. I recognize the challenge in doing something with autobots though, clearly.
The story needs much more emotion and motivation. I just wasn't feeling as much as I should have been. All of that destruction and chaos for what exactly? I didn't even feel the dread of what was happening because the end result was unclear. Can't talk too much more about things with out giving it away, but there it is.

TF3 is far and away the best of the three in my mind however. If you liked the first one, stand in line baby 'cause you'll love this one. AND if you are a Leonard Nimoy / Spock fan like I am, you are in for many, MANY treats! :-) I won't say more!!

Let's breakdown the aspects of my review:

Stereoscopic 3D (10 stars):
Perfect 3D. The very very rare artifact that I detected is not worth mentioning. And as I said above, the bright light 3D issues have been resolved and I was broadly smiling from that alone. Simple static shots with the Fusion 3D system were in fact better than conversions. It is a pure capture of space with native 3D and not an interpretation and I guess that makes all the difference. Don't get me wrong - 3D conversion has come a long- way, but those native shots were definitely better. A lay person may not notice the difference, but I do. I would wager that the more they watch the movie the more chance they would see how it is superior. The best 3D I have seen to date - therefore gets a perfect 10 from me!!

Story (7 stars):
Nothing has changed all that much with the character development of Shia's Sam Witwicky or the autobots. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was a definite improvement over Megan Fox. Frances McDormand added a touch of respectibility. But when all is said and done, you are left thinking about the superb action and 3D rather than the story or characters.

The standard TRANSFORMERS humor is definitely still present and I laughed out loud several times. You'll enjoy those moments.

Acting (8 stars):
Acting was ok. Nothing too intense for sure! Shia has improved somewhat and at least he isn't running around shouting "no, no, no, no, no, no, nooooooo" if you know what I mean. Clearly Rosie is better for the movie than Megan was because Rosie has an element of class and elegance. You can see why Sam falls for her (other than looks that is).

The real stars of the movie are the action and 3D. They deserve top billing. Oscars will be piling up on the effects guys on this one no doubt.

Character Development (8 stars):
If it wasn't for Sentinel Prime I would not be happy with this category at all really for TF3. But the Nimoy driven character was very fascinating (no pun intended).

Suspension of Disbelief (9 stars):
Superlative special effects and jaw dropping 3D brought on just about perfect suspension of disbelief. It looked so real. Nothing was telling you that this couldn't happen other than the innate childishness of the autobots to begin with. But we are all past that by now aren't we? I am. Its part of our culture now.

Directing (9 stars):
There are only two directors on this planet that could deliver this type of movie. James Cameron and Michael Bay. Bay stepped up and topped himself for this effort. I think he even topped Cameron (for action that is). Cameron can weave a superb story and character arc with his action, but for pure bred, in your face, "what did I just see" action - Bay is the man. For that, he gets 9 stars.

Sound / Score (10 stars - rounded up):
Wow. Extremely well done and bone shattering. The almost perfect compliment to what is being presented on the big screen. It needs to reinforce the visuals and IT DOES in a big way.

Cinematography (10 stars - rounded up):
Amir Mokri was masterful (he's also doing MAN OF STEEL). Bay and Mokri work well together and you have to on a project like this. The coordination of the stunts, pyrotechnics, actors, camera movement / focus and Bay's vision has writing on the wall for an Oscar. It is that good.

Special Effects / Stunts (10 stars - unreserved):
The best I have seen to date. No exceptions. Therefore TF3 gets a 10 from me. I need not say more - GO SEE IT!!!

This is the movie event of the summer so far! HARRY POTTER and CAPTAIN AMERICA may have something to say about it, but for pure visuals and entertainment, you can't beat DARK OF THE MOON. I give this movie my unreserved blessing for you to go see. It is worth the money for 3D and I recommend IMAX 3D if you have it available.


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