Transformers: Dark of the Moon is all but guaranteed to be one of the biggest hits of summer 2011, and just like all major blockbusters these days, it will be presented in 3D. Though hesitant to move towards the format at first because of how the technology would affect his style of filmmaking, director Michael Bay says that he now fully embraces the movement and a big reason behind that acceptance is James Cameron, a man whom many see as the patron saint of the third dimension.
Earlier this evening I was granted an invitation to attend a moderated conversation between Bay and Cameron while they discussed flaws, benefits and importance of 3D in today’s cinema. The footage of said conversation will be available on this coming Friday, but I am writing this article now because the evening had another surprise: the opening sequence of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which I am more than happy to recap for you right here on Cinema Blend.
For those that want to enter the new Transformer film knowing nothing about the plot, I suggest you turn away now as the first five minutes are jam packed with exposition that sets up the film’s entire story line. This is your final warning as the…
Synopsis Starts HereFollowing the title sequence, the camera floats through space until it lands on the planet Cybertron which is littered with giant metal constructs. From afar we witness the great battle-between Autobots and Decepticons as Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) begins his voice-over. Describing the interminable battle on the planet’s surface, an airship flies by which Optimus reveals has cargo that could have saved them.
The airship with the precious cargo begins to fly away from the planet’s surface just when Decepticon ships successfully blow it up. We're then transported to 1961 New Mexico where the surface of the moon is being analyzed. We then see the Autobot ship crash land and scientists detect the impact. Knowing that they need to see what’s going on, a call is made to Washington and a CGI version of John F. Kennedy is shown discussing America's need to beat the Russians to the moon in order to figure out exactly what’s going on. We then watch archive footage of JFK’s famous address in which he stressed the importance of getting a man on the moon.
More archive footage of Apollo 11’s launch is shown as well as Walter Cronkite’s news coverage of the event. Finally we see Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the lunar surface, with Armstrong proclaiming that “The Eagle has landed,” before giving his famous line, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” After this quote, a man at mission control turns a knob and the signal feed is cut. Even some NASA scientists have no idea what’s going on. Speaking to the astronaut on a private feed, one of the insider’s says “Neil, you are dark on the rock. Mission is a go. You have 21 minutes.”
We then watch archive footage of President Richard Nixon as he praises the efforts of NASA in getting a man mission successfully to the moon. The command module Columbia flies safely into the Pacific Ocean and the entire mission is viewed as a success, with the general public having no idea about their actual motives. As the heroes are arriving back on land, a metallic suitcase is placed into a trunk labeled “Top Secret.” Back on the moon the camera flies into the inner bowels of the ship where we see a giant transformer – to later be identified as Sentinel Prime – whose eyes suddenly begin to glow, suggesting that he is still active. Flying into the robot’s pupil, moving machinery forms the film’s title: Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Synopsis Ends HereFitting with the theme of the evening, the first thing I’ll talk about is the use of 3D, which I think looked fantastic. As with many 3D action films, it did occasionally prove to be a distraction, but for the most part it was used effectively. While the technology will probably prove itself to be an even bigger factor when it comes to on-the-street battles between giant robots, I will say that the extra dimension did add a grandiose element to both the war on Cybertron and the scenes on the moon, but this leads me to my next point.
The first minute or so shows off an absolutely epic battle, filled with potential that, if the marketing is any indication, won’t be explored in the rest of the film. It’s truly impossible to create an opinion about a movie having only seen a few minutes of it, but human-removed robot-versus-robot fighting has been something that fans of the original animated series have been clamoring for since Bay’s first Transformers film came out in 2007. It’s entirely possible that this summer we're in for a huge flashback sequence that takes full advantage of the Cybertron war, but if the previous films are any indication we are going to be stuck with Earth-bound battles and useless humans running around robotic feet.
The first 3D cut of the Transformers: Dark of the Moon trailer is set to launch with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides this weekend and be sure to look out for the Michael Bay-James Cameron conversation on Friday.