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YMMV / Transformers: Dark of the Moon

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The film:

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Sentinel Prime: Was he a Well-Intentioned Extremist who only wanted his people to have their home restored, or did he just want to return to an era where he was revered as a god?
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    • Dylan Gould: Is he a Jerkass Woobie who was unfortunate enough to inherit his dad's allegiance with the Decepticons, or simply a Dirty Coward who wanted to be on the "winning" side? His Moral Event Horizon crossing indicates that he's more so on the latter.
      • One is also reminded of Saren Arterius, another organic who made a desperate deal with Humongous Mecha From Space in the hopes of saving some remnant of civilization. This is a bit of a stretch, though, as Gould does not express any such sentiment.
    • Megatron: Was he earnest when he wanted a truce, or did he just want to reclaim his role as Decepticon leader? How you interpret this will also say something about Optimus's following actions.
      • Did Megatron actually deserve the benefit of the doubt, even if he was sincere? Or is this a case of The Farmer and the Viper?
      • On the other hand Optimus probably remembered what Megatron did in the last film.
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    • The Autobots as a whole, continuing from the previous movie where they attack Decepticons who are just minding their own business. Here we see the Decepticons aiming to take prisoners (only deciding to execute the Autobots after being talked into it by Dylan), something the Autobots never consider doing with Decepticons they defeat. Decepticons are concerned about the wellbeing and future of their race (Megatron's taking care of children at the beginning, and the whole attempts to restore Cybertron). This paints a weird portrait of the Autobots, who seem like sore losers about losing the whole war, and would rather drive their own species towards extinction than accept their defeat and let the Decepticons rebuild Cybertron. It's true that most of these plans for rebuilding were at the Human race's expense, but frankly Megatron's hatred of humans is understandable: The first we did is dig him out, keep him paralyzed, then vivisect him For Science!! (And if you factor the Novelization or the common Handwave for him knowing English when he awoke... He was conscious through it all). It becomes easy to see the Decepticons as Well-Intentioned Extremist and the Autobots as borderline sociopaths. And that is without even getting into the Autobots involving themselves in human politics at the behest of a single country...
      • Although this interpretation misinterprets a few things of the movies: Optimus makes it pretty clear the War is lost (in the third movie, he outright says such to Sentinel) and that he has no hopes or intentions of winning it, his focus is keeping humanity from meeting the same fate as his race did: In the first movie, for example, he attempts to sacrifice his own life to save humanity, even though that would mean the Decepticons would win. The second movie also shows The Decepticons planned comitting genocide here long before the war even began (With The Fallen and all), not to mention seeking to destroy/enslave the entire human race because a bunch of agents from one government from a one country imprisoned you (without the rest of the country knowing it, mind you) is a pretty big overreaction. On the politics matter, the label of the scene said "ILLEGAL nuclear facility", meaning it probably belonged to some guerrila warlord and not a government.
      • It also misses the fact that outside of divine intervention (like the Allspark, which was destroyed in the first film) or destruction on a scale larger than Cybertron itself, Cybertron is already dead. 'Winning' and 'restoring the world' wouldn't actually accomplish anything since there's nothing left to restore. While the Autobots may not have any particular need or desire to restore Cybertron, they also realize that the 'war' at this point is essentially pointless in-fighting. There's no new Cybertronian life being born or created so 'bots and 'cons are doing little more than driving themselves to extinction. Megatron doesn't want to restore Cybertron—he wants to win and he wants a place to rule; Cybertron is just a convenient rallying call. A more realistic approach if he truly wanted to help the Cybertronian race would be to stop fighting and start figuring out a way to bring his race back from extinction—colonizing Mars for instance.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • By the end of the film, the Autobots seem pretty held together despite the fact that they just possibly lost Cybertron forever. Then again, they had already more or less accepted that Cybertron was irredeemable by the end of the first film, so it may not be that big a deal.
    • The death of Ironhide doesn't seem to bother them really hard either.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: All four of the main Decepticons go down ludicrously easily, almost to the point where they seem no more powerful than standard Mooks.
    • Megatron gets overpowered and decapitated by Optimus in less than 10 seconds.
    • Starscream is killed by Sam of all people.
    • Soundwave barely even puts up a fight once his Autobot prisoners are freed; he simply flails about, firing off his guns aimlessly before Bumblebee shoots his head off.
    • Shockwave gets blinded by NEST soldiers and only gets one shot in against Optimus (a shot that misses) before the Autobot leader rips his head off.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The previous film had said the events at Mission City were covered up, which was criticized as being lazy and hard to ignore, given the number of people present. This film doesn't offer a cover up, instead having Cybertronians be common knowledge to the human race now, as well as examining the repercussions to this somewhat.
  • Badass Decay: Megatron suffers hard from this, although this is at least partly justified by his injuries in the previous film (the novelization even implies that he has a third of his brain missing). Throughout the movie, he behaves in a somewhat tired manner and tends to stay away from the battlefield, all while getting kicked around by both Sentinel and Optimus (getting killed by the latter in a Curb-Stomp Battle when he starts actually trying to fight). It's actually a plot point as by the end, Megs realizes he's been slipping big-time and it provokes him into joining the final battle.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Sentinel Prime tends to divide moviegoers into two camps, of which the first sees him as a surprisingly complex character with a really cool design and one of the biggest badasses of the entire franchise, while the other hates him for brutally executing Ironhide and sidelining Megatron as the Big Bad.
    • Megatron himself veers sharply into this territory. While his Badass Decay is generally agreed to be at its worst here, the fact that it's very much an Invoked Trope that fleshes out his character more redeems him in the eyes of some. In addition, being forced to sit out of direct combat allows him the opportunity to mastermind the impressive Batman Gambit that makes up the first half of the film. That said, the fact that Optimus takes him down with the absolute greatest of ease is generally seen as a slap in the face to the character, especially considering that the alternate ending is seen as a far more redeeming and rewarding one for him that reestablishes him as a badass. Despite this, Transformers: Age of Extinction shows why DOTM has the ending that it does— it's so Megs can stay the badass conqueror he always was and return as Galvatron—which, while not as "clean" as the alternate ending, at least allows him to persist as the franchise's flagship villain.
      • Megatron's aesthetic, particularly his altmode and cloth cloak, is itself divisive. Reactions range from "very cool in a rugged sort of way" to "does a good job capturing his fallen-by-the-wayside characterization" to "silly as hell".
    • Even on this very wiki, there's no real consensus on whether Jerry Wang is a Crazy Awesome Ensemble Dark Horse for taking on Laserbeak with twin pistols or a tasteless Ethnic Scrappy used to set up a gay joke.
  • Catharsis Factor: Sentinel killing fan-favorite Ironhide with a dishonorable cheap shot from behind and shoving Megatron to take the position of the film's Big Bad assures that most viewers will be notably happier to see him getting beat down on by Megatron and being killed begging for his life by Optimus.
  • Complete Monster:
    • IDW comic adaptation:
      • Unlike in the film, Shockwave—also in the Foundation and Rising Storm prequel comics—is portrayed as a brutal and remorseless Decepticon assassin. Initially a follower of Sentinel Prime, Shockwave expressed disgruntlement with an age of peace and freedom and, as part of Megatron's Defense Force, eagerly massacred dissenting Cybertronians. After joining the Decepticons, Shockwave earned a reputation as Megatron's most lethal subordinate, openly admitting to enjoying the sounds of Autobots dying. Left in command of the Decepticons on Cybertron whilst Starscream searched for the Allspark, Shockwave waged a brutal campaign against the remaining Autobots, killing, amongst others, the Autobot Chromia. On Earth, Shockwave murders the Autobots Longarm and Salvage, as well as the entire crew of an oil processing plant, without provocation. Enslaving the drone who would later become "Brains" to build a "cage" for his Driller, Shockwave openly plans to terminate him when he is no longer useful. When Brains escapes, Shockwave tracks down Starscream's Decepticon splinter group, casually killing Deadlift simply for being in his way, and conscripts them into tracking Brains down. Shockwave then goes on a killing spree in the NEST base in Diego Garcia, killing all the personnel, human and Autobot alike, including traumatized Autobot refugees. Devoid of empathy, Shockwave mocks Elita-One's death at his hand to Prime's face and, later, sadistically taunts Prime about the Autobots that Shockwave killed during their encounter in Chernobyl. Even the death of the Driller, his loyal pet, fails to rouse any emotion from Shockwave, who treats its death as an inconvenience. A merciless sadist who revels in killing, Shockwave terrifies Autobot and Decepticon alike.
      • Dylan Gould, unlike in the film, is portrayed as a sadistic psychopath with delusions of grandeur. Having willingly allied with Decepticons years back, Gould covers up the Decepticons' plans and presence from the public eye, having anyone who attempts to learn the truth murdered by his personal Decepticon attack dog, Laserbeak. Once the Decepticons reveal themselves and attack the Earth, Gould uses Sam Witwicky to spy on the Autobots under threat of slaughtering his girlfriend, Carly, and giddily gives the order for the Autobots to be shot down while they are attempting to leave the Earth. Masterminding the invasion of Chicago, Gould has the Decepticons kill countless people and destroy much of the city while turning it into a fortress. Gould ultimately plans to assist the Decepticons in transporting as much of humanity to Cybertron as possible, then use them as slaves to rebuild Cybertron while Gould lords over them as their master. Even when the Autobots and humans begin defeating the Decepticons, Gould still activates the portal to bring Cybertron to Earth, completely eliminating any possible claims he had to not being fully complicit in the Decepticons' actions. Always wearing a smile and having a witty quip on hand to cover up his raving egomania, Gould truly represents the very worst humans have to offer.
    • In the novelization by Peter David, Sentinel Prime loses all of his film counterpart's redeeming features, turning the somewhat-sympathetic Well-Intentioned Extremist into a psychopathic Knight Templar. Having made a deal with Megatron eons ago to betray his allies the Autobots, Sentinel Prime fulfills this deal in the present after pretending to assist the Autobots, showing his true colors by ruthlessly executing three of his "brothers." Sentinel Prime steals the Pillars from the military group NEST by threatening its director, Charlotte Mearing, stating that if she doesn't give him the Pillars, he will force her to watch as he slaughters every man, woman, and child he can until she does. Lying to humanity to get them to force the Autobots to leave Earth in exchange for Sentinel Prime's offer of peace, Sentinel Prime goes back on his word, orchestrating a full-scale invasion of Earth by the Decepticons and personally overseeing the blood-soaked conflict in Chicago. Sentinel Prime ultimately plans to transport as many humans to Cybertron as possible, then torture and abuse them into reconstructing Cybertron, leaving the rest of humankind to be destroyed alongside the Earth by Cybertron's gravitational field. In the end, Sentinel Prime treats the deaths of Autobot and Decepticon alike with cold satisfaction, proclaiming that he will be the only god left on Cybertron when the dust settles, proving once and for all that, despite his claims of wanting the best for his people, Sentinel Prime truly only cares for himself and his supposed claim to godhood.
  • Contested Sequel: Is it better than the wretched and reviled predecessor or just as bad?
  • Crazy Awesome: Jerry Wang.
  • Critical Research Failure: When the Apollo 11 landing site is visited, the upper half (Ascent Stage) of the LM is shown. The Ascent Stage is what the astronauts leave the moon in. It should only be on the moon during the mission, not afterwards. Once the astronauts have left the moon, then only the descent stage/lower half should remain.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • This movie is often cited when people criticize the Movie-verse Autobots, who in turn get the Ron the Death Eater treatment. While yes, Decepticons were trying to repair Cybertron, it's unlikely that they would offer the "inferior" humans much of a choice, and it's not even discussed how they'd get humans in Cybertron without them dying instantly. Not to mention that if they really wanted their help, they could have just asked first, and not, well, destroy and take over a city and massacre civilians for giggles. note  Even more, bringing the planet to earth would cause irreversible damage to earth, which would result in even more unnecessary deaths.
    • A lot of Megatron fans call out Optimus Prime this because Megatron saved Prime's life by beating the crap out of Sentinel to near death and then asking Prime "Who would you be without me?" Those fans seem to be forgetting that Megatron was the one who tricked Optimus into bringing Sentinel back online with the Matrix, and so Megatron is still to indirectly blame for Ironhide's death. So under no circumstances does Optimus fall into this trope for axing Megatron.
  • Ending Fatigue: The final battle is more like a final war, taking up just about the last hour of the film. The actual final battle (Optimus Vs. Sentinel) doesn't take place till the very end of the movie. If nothing else, Bay kept his promise about having the biggest action yet!
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The film ends with Optimus narrating that the Autobots will never abandon Earth and the humans. The fourth film shows paramilitary groups actively hunting them down, though led by a corrupt leader. Particularly as, until Cade snaps him out of it, Optimus has given up on Earth and the humans and fully intended to leave once they destroyed the seed.
    • Sentinel Prime laments to Optimus that humanity does not treat them with respect, as on Cybertron they, the Primes, were Gods. But on Earth they are "just machines". Optimus disagrees on principle, as he has allied himself with many noble humans. Come the following film, a figure, fueled by Fantastic Racism more than anything else, creates a paramilitary group to target both Autobots and Decepticons alike, and another character is more interested in replicating their scientific properties rather than acknowledging them as actual living beings. He even goes as far as telling Optimus that they are just metal. The latter does get better, though.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • The writers might be prepared to kill off Wheeljack and Ironhide, but Bumblebee? Get real!
    • Also, you know, blowing up the entire Autobot spaceship with them inside.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Sentinel Prime brutally killing Ironhide. Also, the Decepticon's genocidal attack on Chicago in the same movie might have finally driven home the point that yes, the Decepticons really ARE evil.
    • In at least the novel, Megatron redeems himself in the end when he helps Optimus do Sentinel in and then announces his intention to sue for peace. Unlike in the film, he actually lives to see the end of the novel as a direct result.
    • Laserbeak: "Is your daddy home?", said right before killing the poor girl's parents right in front of her.
    • When Soundwave brutally executed Wheeljack after the Autobot had surrendered and was begging for mercy, you knew he deserved everything that happened next.
    • Any sympathy for Dylan leaves when one sees the lengths he's willing to go to ensure that he isn't harmed by the coming Alien Invasion. Like when he reassures himself that he's safe... while watching hundreds of innocent civilians be slaughtered by the Decepticons.
  • Narm: See here.
  • Narm Charm: Starscream's death is pathetic and hilarious, but given how it's Starscream, it comes off as fitting.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Wheeljack's overly-uncanny facial design.
    • Starscream getting killed by Sam. No matter what feats he has in the previous films (and earlier in this one), many fans cling to this one moment to insist that Starscream is an Adaptational Wimp of the highest order (he really isn't).
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Several of Laserbeak's appearances, especially when he pretends to be friendly towards a little girl just so he can kill her father (and the entire family with him).
    • A Decepticon fighter blasting a group of human civilians, reducing them to ash and scattered bones.
  • Padding: It's 2:30 hours long, so a few people find many scenes unnecessary.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • This was anticipated with Megan Fox/Mikaela's departure and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley brought in as a new character, as a lot of fans appreciated that Mikaela wasn't a useless screaming love interest and disliked that Rosie was a Victoria's Secret model with no prior acting experience. The potential anger was ebbed slightly when Rosie's character was named Carly after the G1 character and Rosie herself commented on being proud of being a part of the franchise. But to a lot of people's surprise both Rosie's acting and Carly herself turned out better than expected, as Rosie wasn't a rehash of Mikaela as a blonde and she was consistently cheerful and friendly even through Sam's moody moments in the movie. On the other hand, one hilariously vicious review said that Dark of the Moon is the only movie that could possibly make you miss the acting talents of Megan Fox.

      It's also clear at times that the script was written as though Mikaela was still in it. For example, the fact that the government is comfortable with Sam bringing Carly into their secret Autobot command base without any prior approval is rather forcefully handwaved, whereas Mikaela would have had the same protection that Sam enjoys, since she was there for all of the events that Sam was present for.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Wheelie was better received than in the second movie because A) no leg humping and B) he actually helps in the climactic battle. Along with his partner, the even more quirky Brains, they manage to liven up the mood without being too obnoxious.
    • In the novelization, Skids goes down saving Bumblebee from Sentinel and Mudflap goes down saving the group at large from Sentinel trying to avenge his twin's death. Fans' reaction to this scene in the novelization actually garnered the pair a lot more sympathy and admiration, but it didn't happen for the general audience with the scene being cut.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: It is up for debate, but the movie does aim to fix the problems that happened in the second film and fans were generally impressed with some of the story twists like Sentinel's betrayal, Ironhide's death, Gould's reveal as a bad guy, and Carly convincing Megatron to retake his leadership of the Decepticons. For better or worse, it and the original are generally considered "the good ones" of the live-action series, at least to the fandom.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Narrowly averted as the film was going to contain a scene where Mudflap and Skids were killed off during Sentinel Prime raiding NEST. The scene, and their presence in the movie was cut for pacing. The scene does appear in IDW's comic book adaptation of the movie, playing the trope straight.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Shockwave. While it is understandable that him being the film's Big Bad was a part of a misinformation campaign, surely there was more that could have been done with him. He gets less than 10 minutes of screentime, one line of dialogue, and serves virtually no purpose in the story besides controlling The Driller. The film also includes none of his classic Straw Vulcan or Mad Scientist personality traits, or even an original personality for that matter (at least if you're going only by the films), basically relegating him to the already plentiful role of "Decepticon who gets killed by Optimus in the third act battle".
    • None were at all pleased in the slightest with how quickly and anticlimactically Ironhide gets offed without getting a decent chance to show off his fighting skills in battle.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • It's generally agreed that, like with the previous movie, the alternate ending depicted in the novel and comics where Megatron pulls a Heel–Face Turn and joins forces with Optimus to kill Sentinel, afterwards leaving for Cybertron to help rebuild it, is better than the movie's actual ending. It would have shown Megs get some of his old badassery back and made his Character Development more obvious, showing that he was a Well-Intentioned Extremist all along who genuinely cared about restoring Cybertron and would even give up his evil for that end. One guesses that this may have been because Paramount wanted to leave him evil so that he can return as a villain for future sequels, which did happen after all in Age of Extinction.
    • It's shown in the third film that humans are aware of the Transformers, and that the Autobots are not well liked by the US population (being referred to as "alien mercenaries"). There are clear reasons for this dislike; the Autobots cause countless property damage in their battles, and there's the fact that the average US citizen has to worry about whether or not the car or machine near them is not a dangerous alien warrior. Sadly, the movie only touches lightly on this, and never really explores how the Transformers' known presence has affected the world at large. This is ultimately subverted, however; promotional material for Transformers: Age of Extinction shows that humanity's attitude towards Cybertronians (particularly after Chicago's destruction) will play a big role in the next trilogy's Myth Arc.
    • The film's original touted plot, featuring Shockwave as the ruler of Cybertron and the Big Bad, probably could've made for a pretty good story, especially since it held ripe potential for an Enemy Mine between the Autobots and Decepticons (something not yet tackled in the films). Alas, it was just part of a misinformation campaign.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Leonard Nimoy's performance as Sentinel Prime manages to make him one of the most complex characters in any of the films. Nimoy manages to give a great performance as both the wise mentor of Optimus, as well as the true villain of the story.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Wheeljack/Que's face might seem a little too human-like for some viewers.
    • Most of the time they show their CGI JFK's face out of focus. They focus on it one time briefly. And boy is it creepy.
    • There's also the CGI version of Sam as he swings around after stabbing Starscream in the eye. The CGI becomes noticeable when they show the close up of his face.

The video game:

  • Unexpected Character: Mixmaster's return was unexpected, as was the inclusion of toy-line character Stratosphere.

How well does it match the trope?

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