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Movie Review: Transformers of the Dark Moon – Optimus Primed in IMAX 3D

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Kenneth Branagh as Henry VWe need heroes. No matter how fast our modern technical present ancient connections, ideas and conversations resonate. The third and possibly best Michael Bay Transformers movie understands our search for truth.

Myths are stories of our search through the ages for truth, for meaning, for significance. We all need to tell our story and to understand our story. We need for life to signify, to touch the eternal, to understand the mysterious, to find out who we are.
(Bill Moyers talking with Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth)

Transformers Dark of the Moon paints a modern Agincourt with the role of Henry V split between Shia LeBeof’s Sam Witwicky and Peter Cullen’s voiced Optimus Prime. Facing impossible odds, Bay’s film and Ehren Kruger’s script capture what it means to be American. It is St. Crispen’s day and we are a happy band of movie-going brothers.

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered –
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.
(William Shakespeare, Henry V)

To say Bay’s film moves at breakneck speed is an understatement. Great art needs surprise and Transformers Dark of the Moon has a whopper Hitchcockian surprise I won’t reveal. Transformers’ clear and present homage to the intelligence, courage, creativity and daring of American armed forces is blatant, brilliant and welcomed. Watching this robot fantasy is a vivid reminder of our three wars, wars that may seem a long way from the mall or an IMAX theater. Bay’s and Ehren’s human warriors proceed to do an impossible job with grace and courage providing a not-so-subtle essay about freedom’s costs.

When, close to the end of the movie, Optimus Prime’s nemesis says, “The needs of the many always triumph over the needs of the few,” I heard Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and our constitution’s “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”.

Bay’s Transformers Dark of the Moon is a great summer movie. Is it wrong to think of a summer movie as modern Shakespeare? In Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson suggests pop culture doesn’t destroy grey cells it builds them. Pop culture, particularly computer gaming in Johnson’s book, prepares us for the world as it is – fast, furious and connected. I can’t think of a better description for Transformers Dark of the Moon than fast, furious, and connected.

The IMAX 3D Experience
I was a little surprised by high ticket prices for Transformers in the new local Stone Theater group’s IMAX theater.  After seeing Transformers Dark of the Moon in IMAX 3D I didn’t care about extra charges. The viewing experience is so rich, it is more than worth extra charges.

Before attending Transformers‘ opening day, I watched art critic Robert Hughes claim the death of American painting and sculpture in his 2008 documentary The Mona Lisa Curse; American art is being killed by an uncontrollable market lust, greedy collectors and visual artist apathy. America’s new Pollocks, Warhols and Rauschenbergs funnel creativity to computers instead of canvas. I’m not sure American art has been killed as much as transformed in IMAX 3D.

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