Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PG-13) C-

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (PG-13) C-

2007's "Transformers" was an exciting action film with a good, human story to go with it. After seeing "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" two years later I never wanted to watch another Autobot vs. Decepticon battle. But Paramount decided the world needed a third "Transformers" film even though most critics and moviegoers hated the sequel.

"Dark of the Moon" begins in 1962 with a history lesson. It seems the "space race" of the 1960's was started because an alien spacecraft landed on the moon. This, of course, will be news to you as it was to me. I think I would have remembered this if we had read about it in school. But we see President Kennedy talking about it and in 1969 American astronauts checking-out the Autobot ship, so in director Michael Bay's mind I guess it must be true.

The story then moves to present day. Sam (Shia LaBeouf) has already saved the world twice, but he's unemployed. However, he's got a new, hot girl friend (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley - who replaces Megan Fox). Her slimy boss helps Sam get a job, but soon he has a more important thing to do - try to save the world again.

It turns out it was the former leader of the Autobots - Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) - who crashed his ship on the moon, and the Decepticons have come up with a plan to bring him back to life so he can help them defeat the Autobots and take over the Earth.

"Dark of the Moon" may get the award for the most distinguished cast for a silly, sci-fi action film. Frances McDomand, John Malkovich, and John Turturro. These are three of America's most respected actors. What - was Meryl Streep busy last summer when they were filming "T3"? The supporting cast also includes Patrick Dempsey (as the "McMeanie" boss), Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, heck, even astronaut Buzz Aldrin has a cameo as himself. The problem is most of the dialogue spoken by all the characters is laughable.

The plot leads-up to the final showdown between the good and evil robots - a one hour, non-stop battle that takes place in Chicago and pretty much destroys the entire city. Baseball fans will be happy to know that Wrigley Field is left standing, but that's about it. I happened to see "Dark of the Moon" in Chicago and was relieved when I walked outside after the film was over and not a single building had been harmed. Bay knows how to stage realistic action scenes and the battles and CGI effects look great. But, just like with "Revenge of the Fallen" the fighting goes on way too long.

In fact the film as a whole is too long - 2 1/2 hours. Several early scenes, including those involving Sam and his parents, could have been cut from the movie completely, along with all the slow motion, which Bay seems to love. After awhile you just get tired of all the metal on metal clanking from the robots beating on each other. And, following the "Transformers" tradition, this movie is REALLY LOUD (fortunately you can adjust that at home).

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is rated PG-13 for all the action/violence. Hundreds of humans (along with several robots) are killed, and there's some adult language. It's appropriate for the 10 and up crowd who enjoy these films, though after 2 1/2 hours even diehard fans will be worn out.

On The Official Kid Critic Report Card, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" gets a C-. It' slightly better than "Revenge of the Fallen", but makes the same mistake that movie made: too much Autobot vs. Decepticon fighting and not enough of a human story to make us care who's going win.

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