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Transformers: Dark of the Moon (3D)


Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Patrick Dempsey, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk. Voices: Leonard Nimoy, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Robert Foxworth, James Remar

Director: Michael Bay

Thought Megatron and the Decepticons were no more? Well, commercial reasons demand we think again. In the line of bending historical events to comic-book thrills, started by X-Men: First Class, the Moon landing of 1969 is dragged into this, supposing that Armstrong and Aldrin (in later scenes appearing as himself) discovered a vast alien craft, with a huge autobot and mysterious 'pillars' on board.

The pillars are shipped back to Earth, but the Decepticons are still lurking in the shadows and, with Megatron (Weaving) revived in the desert, plan to harness Earth to their own planet, using millions of enslaved Earthlings to rebuild.

There's a lot of exposition here, and the first hour of the film well outstays its welcome. The last 90 minutes, though, are pretty much all action. laying waste to much of Chicago, after the US government, led by MacDormand, exiles Optimus Prime (again voiced by Cullen) and the good 'bots, paving the way for a Decepticon takeover.

Director Bay's forte is clearly action, and he's much less comfortable with actors, even LaBeouf giving a stronger performance storming around collapsing buildings and trying to save the world than interacting with other members of the cast. Only the irrepressible Turturro, and Tudyk as his sidekick survive Bay's flat handling of the dialogue scenes. And much as it grieves me to concede that there are actresses a lot worse than Megan Fox, star of the first two films, in vapid, pump-lipped English model Huntington-Whiteley, the producers certainly seem to have found one.

The dialogue itself, papered in from other films, includes such classic exchanges as 'We only got one shot.' 'One shot's all we need!'

As usual it's sometimes hard to tell the 'good' transformers from the bad ones in battle scenes, even without one of the former changing sides. Final triumph of the good, too, relies on the old, old standby of the one villain dismantling his partner on the verge of triumph. Effects wise, though, the film is unimaginably spectacular, and Bay achieves one memorable sequence when a US rescue force drifts down from their plane like so many paragliding penguins.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour by deluxe.
154 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 28 Jun 2011