Transformers 3: less than meets the eye

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 5th July 2011.

Like many movie goers this weekend, I took in a screening of the much anticipated Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Directed with the subtlety of a sledgehammer by Michael Bay (Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon), this 157 minute toy commercial was shot in 3D with the assistance of little known director, James Cameron. Mercifully, my session was in 2D. Whilst I was initially excited by the prospect of 3D cinema, I’m now over it completely. The glasses are uncomfortable and make me look like Buddy Holly pre-crash, plus I find the picture a little too dark and cannot follow the action.

The crazy thing about the Transformers sequels is that they are so unnecessarily complicated. I could not tell you what the storyline of the latest film is about. There’s plenty of running, explosions and shooting.  And not much of the movie takes place on the moon.

As a card carrying member of Generation X, I grew up playing with Transformers toys (I even had the opposition toy range, Machine Men or GoBots) and watching the cartoons. My dream Transformers movie would be the realisation of the battles that took place in my head and on the living room floor when I was a kid.

How about this for the perfect Transformers movie? Optimus Prime and the Autobots explore my mum’s kitchen in search of the Whisk of Power. The evil Megatron teams up with Skeletor and E.T. to locate the Egg Beater of Destiny in the second drawer down and the final battle takes place under the living room table. Chaos ensues until bedtime.

Seriously though, I’m struggling to recall anything that took place in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Nothing has stuck. The trailer certainly made a greater impression. How sad.

And what’s with the title? Did Pink Floyd deny Paramount and Hasbro the rights to their famous album name? If that’s the case, why go with the nonsensical “Dark of the Moon” then? I guess it doesn’t matter. Considering the film is a mess, they probably should have gone with Transformers: A Momentary Lapse of Reason instead.

My recommendation is that you by-pass this holiday’s crop of mediocrity. Jim Carrey’s Mr Popper’s Penguins looks pretty dire. By all reports The Green Lantern is terrible. Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Penguins Part Seven may be the only hope for filmgoers.

If you have pay TV, stay at home and enjoy some of the landmark shows about to kick off. Boardwalk Empire, a 12 part series set in Prohibition era Atlantic City, has just concluded and was absolutely amazing. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese and starring Steve Buscemi, this gripping series was television storytelling at its best.

The next instalment in the Dr Who spinoff, Torchwood, will debut next Saturday. Entitled Torchwood: Miracle Day, John Barrowman returns as Captain Jack Harkness in this ten part season which will explore what happens when the population of Earth stop dying.

Finally, the much anticipated Game of Thrones, another big budget series and starring Sean Bean, will debut on July 17. Based on the popular books by George R. R. Martin, the show follows “kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and noblemen as they vie for power.” I can’t wait.

Some of the best storytelling is taking place on your idiot box. With toy companies now in the filmmaking business, why not stay home and have a big night in?

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