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Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg redeem themselves with this one

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A review of Paramount Pictures' "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

By Becca Owsley

Many fans were disappointed in the second film in the Transformer series “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and questioned if the third installment “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” would renew their excitement for the series based on Hasbro toys.

I was pleasantly surprised. The film has its flaws and is not the epitome of perfect cinema but is one whale of an action flick.

The plot is pretty simple. The Autobots are the good guys who help protect humans from the Decepticons, who are out to destroy everything and rule the universe.

What is interesting about this film is the time it takes to set up the action. The first hour of the film sets up the story. In a way this isn’t necessary because of the simple plot. But the setup is mostly about laughs. It’s outright goofy in parts. At first I was afraid this was going to lead to the same disappointment of the second film. But the goofiness, for the most part, works.

All things lead up to a 30-minute-long final battle sequence. The lengthy ending allows the film to build to an ending that isn’t over in two minutes like many action films today. It lingers and sets up the action. I found this very refreshing.

There are actual stunts performed by actual stuntmen and not computer animated figures. The film creates a blend of computer generated effects and people-driven stunts that are missing in many films of the computer era. One scene in particular has soldiers dropping into a battle zone in wingsuits. These suits have extended wings, for lack of better words, that allow the wearer to glide through the sky and direct their flight until they reach a certain height and deploy their parachutes. In the middle of their descent there are computer-generated effects all around them, but the actual stunt is real.

Sequences like this are what sustain the film, building to something that doesn’t end quickly. It also played well in the 2-D version I viewed.

There are a few issues though. The film is two and a half hours long and might not hold everyone’s attention. The acting also is not award-quality but that’s not what people go to action flicks to see.

A lot of characters come in and out of the story. Some of them are useful to the plot and some left me questioning why they were in the film. John Malkovich (“Secretariat”) is in the movie but by the time the two and a half hours were over I found my self asking, “What was he doing in the film?”

Ken Jeong (“Hangover II") also makes a brief appearance in the film as a NASA scientist on the wrong side. His part in the film is full of laughs but he is quickly introduced and then out.

Shia LaBeouf returns as the awkward hero Sam Witwicky. Josh Duhamel, John Turturro and Tyrese Gibson also return in their roles from the previous films. They are joined by Malkovich, Jeong, Patrick Dempsey (televisions “Grey’s Anatomy”), Frances McDormand (“Burn After Reading”), Alan Tudyk (“A Knight’s Tale”) and Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. And a brief cameo by Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

All of these characters and others drift in and out of the story. Gibson doesn’t appear until the last hour of the film. It is probably the film’s biggest flaw.

The best addition to No. 3 is the voice of Leonard Nimoy, Spock from “Star Trek.” He joins Petter Cullen (Optimus Prime) and Hugo Weaving (Megatron) to voice the character of Sentinel Prime. There’s even a couple nods to his Star Trek fame in the film with a clip from the television show and Nimoy delivers one of Spock’s most famous lines, which made me chuckle out loud in the theater.

Parents might want to be aware that Whiteley’s character does have some sexy moments and the film is violent with machine oil gushing from robotic wounds in battle but similar to what might have been seen in the first two films.

Despite the flaws and the length of the film I enjoyed “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” It is greatly improved from the second film and the time filmmakers take to create the action makes it one of the best action flicks I’ve seen this year.

Director Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg redeem themselves with this one. Critically this film would probably be a three or less but fanwise it ranks off the charts. I’ll compromise and give it four out of five take slates.

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” is more than meets the eye.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.

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