A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is third installment in the blockbuster Transformers franchise. It's less crude than the first sequel but more violent than the original. Tween and teen boys in particular will be interested in seeing this movie, but even younger kids who are familiar with the Hasbro toys may be curious about yet another live-action adaptation. Like all of director Michael Bay's films, there's a constant threat to all the characters -- in fact, humanity in general -- and an accompanying body count to match that sense of peril. Some robot deaths are particularly startling. Language is edgy, with frequent uses of "a--hole," "bitch," and "s--t" and two variations on the F-bomb. This is a dream movie for car, weapon, and military aficionados, but not so much for young girls, since the only three women in the film are stereotypes -– the young blond "hottie," the tough older careerist, and the wisecracking middle-aged mom.
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What's the story?
In TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, since the end of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) has graduated from college, been dumped by his long-term girlfriend, and taken up with another beautiful woman, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), despite not having a job. After mysterious Autobot technology is found in Chernobyl, Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) leads a mission to the dark side of the moon, where he discovers his predecessor, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy). Once they've returned to Earth, Optimus revives Sentinel, who's the only Transformer capable of launching a teleportation system he created. Optimus assures the head of national intelligence (Frances McDormand) that Sentinel is trustworthy, but it turns out he's actually aligned with Megatron (Hugo Weaving) and the Decepticons, who plan to use the teleportation bridge to rebuild Cybertron on Earth.
Is it any good?
It's not likely to be the movie of the summer like the original in 2007, but if you've got a teen boy, it's going to be a must-see nonetheless. The target audience for Transformers: Dark of the Moon probably doesn't care whether it's good or not; they just want their fix of Michael Bay's signature explosions, metal-on-metal battles, and scantily clad damsels in distress. More discerning audiences, however, will be slightly reassured that this installment is better than the awful Revenge of the Fallen; for one, there's less offensive material (although there are still some squicky lines, like when Mrs. Witwicky muses whether her son's got some hidden "skills" that are responsible for him landing two such "world-class hotties" as girlfriends), and secondly, you might not want to leave 20 minutes into the movie.
But just because this "threequel" is mediocre rather than horrible doesn't make it worth two-and-a-half hours of an audience's time. It's laughable (when will screenwriters realize that a woman can't run for her life in stilettos?) and in desperate need of a merciless editor (this isn't an epic like The Lord of the Rings, so there's no need for it to be over two hours). The best part is seeing McDormand and pal John Turturro joke with each other on what was probably the easiest acting job of their careers. Of course, young boys will get a kick out of the Transformer battles, the space-race history lesson, and living vicariously through Sam (whom every male -- human or Transformer -- calls "lucky" for having the babelicious girl on his arm).
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Transformers: Dark of the Moon's nonstop violence. How does the filmmaker differentiate between Transformer-on-Transformer violence and violence against humans? Do you think the director gets away with depicting more violence because Transformers aren't people?
Although there's less stereotyping here than in the previous movie in the series, what are some instances in which characters of a particular gender, ethnic, or racial group are depicted in a stereotypical manner?
Despite the number of attractive male characters, why does the movie focus so much more on the leading actress' body? What message does that send audiences?
Nearly every scene features a product placement; is this realistic (because people do use particular brands) or is it distracting?
- In theaters: June 29, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: September 30, 2011
- Cast: Josh Duhamel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Shia LaBeouf
- Director: Michael Bay
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 154 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense prolonged sequences of sci-fi action violence, mayhem and destruction, and for language, some sexuality and innuendo
For kids who love sci-fi and action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.