Review: Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

** (M)

Director: Michael Bay

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Frances McDormand.

EACH subsequent Transformers film seems to prove one thing - that the first one was a fluke.

The second was as awful as the first was great. The third, while slightly better than the second, just confirms it - Bay got lucky first time around.

For Dark Of The Moon, Sam Witwicky (LaBeouf) is back, having been dumped by Mikaela (played in the first two films by Megan Fox, who was ditched from this film for likening Bay to Hitler) only to shack up with another supermodel-looking girlfriend (this time it's Victoria Secret model Huntington-Whiteley as Carly).

Meanwhile, Optimus Prime has learnt the secret about NASA's Apollo missions to the moon - a secret that could lead to a dangerous reprisal from the Decepticons if it fell into the wrong hands.

The best thing to be said about Dark Of The Moon, aside from the fact it's better than Revenge Of The Fallen, is that it's sporadically interesting and not as eyeball-poundingly messy. The plot, while still filled with "what the?" moments, at least makes some kind of sense and there are some sequences that are mildly memorable.

The pick of these is a massive action sequence in a toppling building, but unfortunately even that is fumbled thanks to one of the film's biggest problems - spectacularly bad editing. Within scenes and between scenes, it feels like pieces of the film are missing or haphazardly stuck together, or worse, whole segments go on too long, which sucks because the movie is already a bum-numbing two-and-a-half hours long (and certainly feels it).

Despite its length, there is no room for developing the characters or giving them an arc at all. LaBeouf spends the whole movie sooking or yelling, Huntington-Whiteley just pouts a lot with her freakishly huge lips, and Duhamel and Epps' characters are so thin they would blow away in a breeze. Thankfully, Turturro returns to bring the wackiness he brought in the previous films, although this time he's not the only one - John Malkovich pops up as wacky boss, Ken Jeong goes over-the-top as a wacky conspiracy theorist, and Alan Tudyk is a highlight as Turturro's wacky German assistant Dutch (in fact a whole movie of Turturro and Tudyk's characters would be better than this).

Dark Of The Moon, in typical Bay fashion, is more concerned with how things look than making sense, fleshing out characters or giving you anything worth switching your brain on for. Instead we get as many gratuitous shots of Huntington-Whiteley's legs or arse as possible and more explosions than you can poke a stick of dynamite at.

But that's probably why anyone (mostly guys) would want to go and see this. Anyone yearning for a well-rounded film á la the first Transformers film will be sadly disappointed.

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