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Transforming the Hollywood sequel

The summer of 2009 was a disappointing time for many film enthusiasts after the unsuccessful release of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Like many other sequels, the Transformers franchise made the mistake of trying to outdo the original product, specifically in terms of special effects, story structure, and length. While the second installment of Transformers fell short of audience expectations, the third film "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" completely and utterly makes up for the inadequacies of its predecessor.

One of the best aspects of "Dark of the Moon" is that it does not try to outdo the first two films, but rather creates an entirely new story based in the "Transformers" universe. Instead of setting the movie in an alternate timeline, "Dark of the Moon" relies on many historical events such as the Space Race of the 1960s and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to support the final chapter in the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. As more details of the plot emerge, it becomes clear just how much is at stake for both humans and Transformers alike.

Like first two films, the special effects used in "Dark of the Moon" are of the highest quality. The instant transformations of the title characters from their alternate modes are amazing as ever and the battle scenes are just as explosive, if not more so, than the previous two films. Slow motion filming allows the audience to see just how brutal these battles are; their varied settings create an idea of what the world would be like if an alien race were to take over the country.

A prime reason why "Dark of the Moon" makes up for "Revenge of the Fallen" is that it takes place in locations that many viewers would easily recognize, instead of trying to create three different storylines taking place in countless countries. While brief incursions are seen in the Middle East and Europe, the majority of action centers in well known cities of the United States that include Washington D.C. and a final climactic showdown in Chicago. The amount of destruction caused in these cities by both human and alien alike will make lovers of the Transformers franchise very proud.

While sequels have many drawbacks, they also have the benefit of bringing fresh new characters into the mix, and "Dark of the Moon" is no different. Two of the many aliens to join the conflict between Optimus Prime and Megatron include the long lost leader of the Autobots, Sentinel Prime, voiced by Leonard Nimoy, and the menacing Decepticon, Shockwave. Although these are just two examples, the rest of the Transformers to join the fray will be ones that audiences everywhere will enjoy for the action they create as well as the vehicle forms they take on.

Even though they cannot perform stunts quite as grand, the human cast list of "Dark of the Moon" is just as impressive. The male cast members remain largely unchanged with the return of Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, and Tyrese Gibson. Finding a female lead was difficult after the departure of Megan Fox, but with the casting of Rose Huntington-Whiteley this film has a smart and sexy replacement that gives Fox a run for her money. New cast members include such actors as Frances McDormand, Alan Tudyk, and Patrick Dempsey.

Although the summer has just begun, there is no doubt that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" will be one of the top films to see in the weeks ahead. The fact that this movie will be shown in 3D only adds to the appeal that theatre goers everywhere will be looking for. Needless to say, there is more to this film than meets the eye.

Christopher Spall can be reached at


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