It is safe to say that most people knew what to expect from Michael Bay's third instalment of the Transformers franchise. Impressive visuals, great special effects and plenty of metal on metal action sequences all flimsily supported by a weak script and storyline. Dark of the Moon is a better film than the previous Revenge of the Fallen but is still beset by the same flaws.
Dark of the Moon starts impressively, taking its initial story from a Transformers novel, where the US moon landings and space race are explained to be a front to investigate a Transformers ship that has crashed on the dark side of the moon. It transpires that the Russians obtained a Transformer energy source from the crash site and began experiments with it at Chernobyl with disastrous consequences. Grounding the beginning of the film in this historical context is the strongest point of all three Transformer films. However, as soon as the initial story is set and the screenplay of Ehren Kruger takes over, starting with the appearance of Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), the film descends into familiar territory.
Cue another weak script for the same bunch of characters, Special Agent Simmons (John Turturo), Lennox (Josh Duhamel), Epps, (Tyrese) and what was not great but occasionally amusing the first time becomes annoying the third time around. Megan Fox is not present this time and the script throws some barbs in her direction. Her replacement is posh Brit Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who ticks all the aesthetic boxes Bay must have been looking for in a replacement but provides nothing more. Cameos from John Malkovich and Ken Jeong provide some fresh humour in places.
Despite the criticism that Revenge of the Fallen was bloated, Dark of the Moon clocks in at just over two and a half hours and is far, far too long. I have no problems with long films, I have sat through Apocalypse Now and Once Upon a Time in America many times but for an action film with a cheesy script it is completely unnecessary.
I couldn't help compare the films main protagonist, Sentinel (voiced by Leonard Nimoy), with the Fallen from the previous film in that both were characters from Cybertron's past, re-activated and brought to Earth as part of the Decepticon's plans.
Visually the action looks amazing again, in particular the scenes on the freeway and with the falling skyscraper but it has all been seen before. The film culminates in another huge battle between the Transformers set against a different cityscape (Chicago this time) that feels oh so familiar.
By giving Dark of the Moon 5 out of 10, it made me realise I was too kind to Revenge of the Fallen.