Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
A yellow Camaro and a nail polish red Ferrari hurtles down the highway at 100 mph. Three black, large, bulky Suburbans speed on and overtake them out of nowhere. After crashing onto other cars one of them transforms to a Decepticon, a large robot on what looks like giant rollerblades. With its increased height it smashes into the exit sign toppling it over. The two other Suburbans ramp off the fallen sign and also transforms to Decepticons. They crash into cars that are thrown to the path of the Camaro. Before they crash into it Sam (Shia LaBeouf) screams as his car transforms into Bumblebee jettisoning him out of his seat 50 feet in the air. Bumblebee leaps over a car wreck and catches Sam mid air in one fell swoop. As Bumblebee lands he transforms back to the black striped Camaro sneaking Sam back safely on the passenger seat. The whole time Sam could not stop screaming his lungs out.
Brace yourselves. The stakes in this latest Transformers saga are higher. The battle is between not just dozens of Autobots and Decepticons, but goes into the hundreds, flying jet fighters, droids and even a mother ship. If there was any movie perfect for the 3D technology, this would be it. The sensation of being inside a falling sky scraper was intensified by 3D. A giant Worm-like Decepticon eating through buildings, the ground and anything in front of it was even more horrifying – in 3D. Audiences in the premiere felt physically exhausted in what seemed like a non stop roller coaster, explosion packed ride.
The story begins with the “greatest moment of all recorded history” a phrase by Walter Cronkite describing the moon landing by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Incidentally, “The Transformers 3, Dark Side of the Moon” premiere was sponsored by the History channel. “We didn’t intend to choose the film because of that but the most interesting stories do come out of history,” said AETN All Asia Networks Head of Advertising Charles Less. And one of the greatest American presidents John F. Kennedy was recreated with a very lifelike 3D animation as well in Transformers 3. An up and coming drama based on JFK and his family’s life is the basis of a controversial drama series in the History channel. “The Kennedys” starring Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear is banned in the U.S. but will be available here in the Philippines and Asia.
Sci-Fi freaks will appreciate the homage to two of the biggest franchises of the genre: Star Wars and Star Trek. The mother ship of the Decepticons was shaped like a Battle cruiser straight out of “Star Wars: A New Hope” or “Empire Strikes Back”. The Trekie connection is even clearer with the casting of Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime. The Autobot leader before Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) has not only the voice but also the facial features of ‘old’ Spock. Megatron already had Hugo Weaving as his voice in the previous films. Weaving became known as Agent Smith in another hugely successful sci fi franchise: “The Matrix” and Elrond in Lord of the Rings. Weaving is currently shooting two of “The Hobbit” films as part of the JRR Tolkien universe.
One of the controversies surrounding this film is the replacement of hot female lead Megan Foxx. Her character has been completely written out. But Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly will make all the geeky male fanatics forget about Foxx. Rosie is taller, blonde with a British accent and legs that go on forever. Carly is not just a damsel in distress but actually has an expanded role. Big name actors like John Malkovich have quirky if not irritating characters. Malkovich is cast as tough no none sense boss Bruce Brazos. Frances MacDormand is the head of Intelligence Charlotte Mearing who pulls out Sam in his role as go between with the Autobots.
Ken Jeong of Hangover fame is a stressed out and crazed former NASA employee Jerry Wong. He also has the paranoia of his Hangover character Mr. Chow without the cocaine binge. Tough boss John Malkovich catches Jerry with his pants down as Sam crawls out of the men’s room cubicle with him.
The U.S. military actually has a major role in the defense of the planet. Special Ops in winged suits come flying down from thousands of feet up in the air trying to get as close to the Trump Towers. Chicago is where the Decepticons try to create a portal and transport their world to ours.Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Epps (Tyrese Gibson) lead the human assault against them.
There are added Decepticons here than previous two Transformer installments. Vortex, Barricade, Shockwave and the Driller are among them. But the smaller bots that interact with humans more have become crucial for the story. Lazerbeak (Keith Szarabajka) is a flying bot that puts the fear in their human accomplices. The Autobots smaller Wheelie (Tom Kenny) and Brains (Reno Wilson) who are now ‘living in’ with Sam are political refugees. They detest being seen as his pets and actually become heroes as well.
DO NOT take your eyes or 3D glasses away from the screen once the action and the battle scenes start. Everything happens in seconds like a UFC fight except here it’s between huge robots that fly and have canons on their wrists. The difference is we don’t have the benefit of slow motion replay. The pace is incredible with hardly enough time for anyone to catch their breath.