Alrighty, so this is hopefully to be the last outing with helmer Michael Bay. You can sorta tell in the film. He wanted to go out with a bang. And he wanted to show up Christopher Nolan by trashing Chicago even worse than Nolan did in the Dark Knight. But really, Dark of the Moon shouldn't even be discussed in the same sentence as the Dark Knight.
It's not nearly as bad as Revenge of the Fallen. Not by half. On the other hand, its not half as good as 2007's Transformers. For one very important reason.
In 2007, when Transformers launched, and we were introduced to Optimus Prime and Bumblebee just a bit over the 1/3rd mark. You knew at least who they were. Their bodies were not the same, but their attitudes were. Bumblebee was the intensely brave, intensely loyal friend he was in both the Comic and the Cartoon, even though he didn't have his distinctive voice. Something I felt was a shame, as it would have been nice to hear Dan Gilvezan back just as much as it was to have Peter Cullen back as Prime.
Prime himself was, immediately recognizable as the same character who was quick to laugh and slow to anger. He would have done everything possible to protect his soldiers, everything that is except letting harm fall on the Humans. This is a character who chose death because he had accidentally killed computer game characters! Who let Megatron take a hostage and mortally wound him because he wanted to give the Decepticon Tyrant another chance.
Now, he just takes Faces, He's going to kill them all too. He butchers Decepticons like Hanibal lector butchers prison guards. Never once does prime mourn the lives hes taking. Apparently, Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.. unless they have red eyes.. then its butt kicking time.
Ok sure, in his defense, in the Films the Decepticons are almost unanimously shown as little more than mechanical beasts. Starscream and Megatron are basically the only ones who have any personality at all. This is something that actually improved in Revenge of the Fallen, and continued into Dark of the Moon. While the characters themselves were more correct in the first film, some of them have gotten far more dialog in the sequels.
Speaking of Megatron.. I feel his inclusion in this movie was more or less pointless. He didn't do anything except allegedly shoot Elephants in a scene that got cut out, and then get killed brutally by Optimus in the climax of the film. I feel it would have been far better to have scrapped him entirely, and given his dialog and screen time to Shockwave. An endlessly intriguing character who, they got my hopes up by Casting David Warner to voice in the Video Game.. I'd have bought 10 tickets if I got a conversation between Shockwave/Warner and Sentinel Prime/Nimoy.. it would have been like Star Trek VI all over again. Awesome. In other words.
Nimoy was the real standout of the film. His character was complex, but ultimately should have simply been Galvatron. I couldn't help but think of Galvatron every time Sentinal Prime spoke. That's how deeply Nimoy's portrayal of the upgraded Megatron was on me as a child. Even when I listen to Spock I think of Galvatron.
The Set pieces ranged from fantastic to bugf*ck insane. When I said they trashed Chicago I was not even remotely joking. Though they never really gave a reason why the Decepticons planned to take over Chicago.. It just happened.
The really unique thing though is that this is the first time that the plot was more or less copied from the Cartoon. Or rather, several episodes. It shared elements of The Ultimate Doom and of Megatron's Master Plan. But ultimately the Cartoons were far more fulfilling because both times they showcased complexity of many of the characters.
Oh well, I'd still rank this as the 2nd best in the series..