If you’ve stumbled onto this website by accident and have somehow been unable to pick up on the obvious, we here at the Cavalcade love a bad movie. In fact, we meet every month to just rip a movie apart for four hours. It’s surprisingly cathartic. In 2009, when director Michael Bay unleashed the cinematic equivalent of the baby from Eraserhead (1977) known as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (RotF), we started chomping at the bit for the third installment. The third movie in any Sci-Fi/Fantasy series is always the worst and considering just how awful RotF was, DotM would probably be the worst movie since Ed Wood conned his way onto a film set. So you can imagine our surprise when we report that DotM is actually….good?
Years have past since the events of RotF and the Autobots and Sam (Shia Labeouf) are busy trying to make their way in the world. However, since something has to happen or there is no movie (and even worse, no merchandising rights) the Decepticons start playing their old tricks again, revealing a secret withheld from the Autobots. As it turns out, the entire space race was actually to find a crashed Autobot ship on the moon; as opposed to the betterment of mankind (and the crushing of Communism). This sets off a chain of events that could legitimately end world. I cannot go into further details for fear of revealing spoilers as there is so much plot in this movie.
If you’ve just finished laughing hysterically, I will say it again: there is an actual plot in a Transformers movie directed by Michael Bay. I would not have believed it had I not seen it myself; but I did and I do. Granted, it is a “We have to prevent DOOM!” plot, but it is solid. A leads to B, which in turn leads to C-as opposed to RotF: wherein A lead to B lead to HIDEOUS RACISM and testicle jokes. It is almost as if Bay and the writers watched RotF, made notes as to where they went wrong and did the exact opposite for DotM. This includes keeping the story moving forward at all times, explaining what the hell is going on, presenting the Transformers as actual characters, balancing the action and the talking, and cutting any and all superfluous characters.
This leads into an even scarier admission: I even enjoyed the humans in this film. Whereas in the previous installments everyone was basically a caricature, here they are characters. Sam Witwicky is dealing with trying to get his first job out of college, and speaking as someone looking for work in this economy, I can identify with this character. Bay gives every character on screen something real to do that advances the story, even the previously annoying Wheelie and Brains.
Make no mistake: this is still a Michael Bay film. There are more than enough explosions, boobs, slow motion, low angles, and military advertising for the film to meet Mr. Bay’s demands that “everything be awesome!” However, he also decided to make his most solid picture since The Rock (1996), and for that we reluctantly thank him for making a movie that we will only be able to make fun of half as much as we had hoped.