By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin June 29, 2011 at 6:00AM
I was amused to read an interview with director Michael Bay last week in which he admitted that the second Transformers movie went off-track and assured fans that the third installment in the series was a return to form. Now that I’ve seen this 157-minute assault on the senses, I’m not sure if I agree: it’s like saying that the drilling you endured for your latest root canal wasn’t quite as painful as your last one.
The original Transformers wasn’t a great movie, but at least it started out as—
—fun, with Shia LaBeouf as a high-school student who discovers that his new yellow Camaro is actually an Autobot sent to earth to ward off evil Decepticons from their former planet.
In the new film, fun is not really part of the equation. It’s all deadly serious, an apocalyptic tale of war involving massive robots and human conspirators. Death and destruction are center stage in yet another Michael Bay call to arms, filled to the brim with military personnel barking orders at each other and going into attack mode. There are a few light moments here and there involving John Turturro’s screwy ex-CIA agent, LaBeouf’s well-meaning parents, and the series’ new babe, spunky, long-legged Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
But whatever fundamental story elements may exist at the core of Ehren Kruger’s screenplay, they are smothered by all the tumult and gobbledygook dialogue.
I almost never look at my watch during a movie, but I became so bored that I checked in at the two-hour mark, fearing that there was still more to come. Ironically, just around that time there is a massive action set-piece involving a damaged Chicago building that in any other context—in almost any other movie—would be a highpoint. Here it’s just another scene, very skillfully executed, in a monotonous parade of nonstop action.
I saw Transformers: Dark of the Moon in IMAX 3-D and can report that the visual impact of this presentation is pretty potent. (In fact, the experience is exhausting.) I only wish what was happening onscreen wasn’t so dreary.