Transformers: Dark of the Moon
This is one of those “niche” films that will appeal to a specific target audience (mostly younger males), but have a very limited draw with other segments of the moviegoing market (like grandmothers).
The whole Transformers series (this is the 3rd installment) is based on the original Hasbro toys, where boys with toys could “transform” trucks into robots (and back again) by mechanical manipulation. Kinda creative. And now that we have all this computer graphic imaging (CGI) technology, in 3-D no less, it’s just a lot of fun to watch these transformers constantly morphing, complete with sound effects, and then we concoct some grand comic-book-type plot where the fate of the universe hangs in the balance, and we’re all set for the kind of animated violence where you have lots of explosions and mayhem and destruction, and then the good guys win in the end. Simple, right?
Not quite. It turns out that there are good guy and bad guy robots, and also good guy and bad guy humans. The good guy robots, called Autobots, lost the civil war on their own planet, and the other Cybertronians, called Decepticons, are now wanting to conquer the earth so they can make slaves of all the hapless humans. And, of course, there are some “turncoat” humans (Patrick Dempsey, we hardly knew ye), but the Autobots are friends of the humans, including our unlikely hero Sam (Shia LeBeouf), the young man who previously helped save the world (with a medal from President Obama to prove it), but now has a hard time even finding a decent job.
Now, just for kicks, we have this back story inserted of how the 1969 Apollo mission to the moon was surreptitiously supposed to investigate the crashed spaceship that was discovered on the “dark side” of the moon. It seems that there was evidence of an advanced alien technology, which, it turns out, was Cybertronian. But the American politicos have been covering it up for years, even keeping critical parts of the story from their friends the Autobots. But it’s all coming home to roost. The Autobots discover that not only were there power sources available that the humans hid from them, the Decepticons are counting on the turncoat humans to lead them to those power sources, which will bring the Cybertonian civil war to earth, with the earthlings as the collateral damage.
Confusing enough? Well, it’s all really just an excuse for a lot of cool graphic imagery and a lot of explosions with sound effects. In fact, there are so many combat sequences that the story is practically lost, but no matter. We just want Sam to rescue his girlfriend Carly (the stunning English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and also save the world, not necessarily in that order.
What’s interesting to think about is that as we are even now developing the “thinking” machines (like IBM’s “Watson” that can now beat any human at chess), will we eventually build them so lifelike that they will have their own wills, also? And if so, will they decide the world would be better off without the humans? Just wondering.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas