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Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (***)
directed by Michael Bay
written by Ehren Kruger
Principal Cast
Shia LaBeouf -- Sam Witwicky
Josh Duhamel -- Lennox
John Turturro -- Simmons
Tyrese Gibson -- Epps
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley -- Carly Spencer
Patrick Dempsey -- Dylan
Frances McDormand -- Mearing
Kevin Dunn -- Ron Witwicky
John Malkovich -- Bruce Brazos
Julie White -- Judy Witwicky
Alan Tudyk -- Dutch
Ken Jeong -- Jerry Wang
Glenn Morshower -- General Morshower
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon There is quite a good movie hiding inside the over-loud, over-long third film in the most recent incarnation of the venerable Transformers. I have limited interest in watching two almost indistinguishable robots pound each other, and the plot contrivances that allow puny humans to determine the outcome of the battle become increasingly strained. But there are any number of small moments that make the film a joy, at least for the first couple of hours. There is the scene where Witwicky goes around the car to open the door for his gorgeous girlfriend, and then decides not to. There is the scene where his arrogant boss turns out to be an absolute fanboy where Transformers are concerned. There is the Buzz Aldrin cameo.

The movie opens in 1969, with the first moon landing. What we see has no relationship to real history, real physics, or anything else to which the adjective "real" might be applied. But it looks good, and for a Summer blockbuster like Transformers, that's good enough. Actual footage of Richard Nixon and Walter Cronkite saying things taken out of context and combined with CGI effects to provide a new context are fun, even when you know perfectly well that's not the way it happened. Transformers shares this alternate history theme with the even better film, X-Men: First Class.

I like the fact that this Transformers movie had a single writer, Ehren Kruger. Too many films are written by a committee. One of the problems with Green Lantern, which wasn't as bad as you've heard, really, was that it had four writers, not to mention the many uncredited comic book writers from whom they borrowed ideas. By way of contrast, Steve Kloves wrote all but one of the Harry Potter films single handed. Ehren Kruger was one of several writers on the previous Transformers movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and has written many other fantasy films, including The Brothers Grimm, but this is his best script by far.

Why is the Pink Floyd album referenced in the film absolutely first rate, and the movie only a Saturday afternoon entertainment? Pink Floyd knew that the moon has no dark side, really. And said so.

There's a cute cookie early in the credits.

Copyright © 2011 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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