Australian Council on Children and the Media

Transformers: Dark of the moon

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Short takes

Not suitable under 12; Not recommended 12-15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes; Coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Transformers: Dark of the moon
  • a review of Transformers: Dark of the moon completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 5 July 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to violence, disturbing scenes and coarse language
Children 12-15 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and coarse language

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Transformers: Dark of the moon
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence and coarse language
Length 149 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The opening scenes of Transformers: Dark of the Moon depict the final stages of a war between the Autobots and the Decepticons with their home planet of Cybertron being all but destroyed. In the final moments of the battle we see an Autobot spacecraft attempting to escape, and learn that the ship referred to as the “Ark” was carrying a cargo that could win the war for the Autobots. However the ship is hit by enemy missiles and appears to be destroyed before it can escape.

In the present day we find Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf), who has just graduated from college living with his new girlfriend Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington Whiteley) in Washington D.C., while the Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots, and the other Autobots are working with the US government to keep the planet free of Decepticons.

While on a mission to investigate the happenings at Chernobyl’s deserted nuclear plant, Optimus Prime discovers a fuel cell from the lost Ark. Optimus Prime demands answers from the head of National Security (Frances McDormand), who informs him about a crashed spaceship on the dark side of the moon. Optimus and a team of Autobots go to the moon where they discover that the crashed ship is the lost Ark.

Meanwhile, Sam has landed himself a new job, while Sam’s girlfriend Carly is working for a wealthy accountant named Dylan Gould (Patrick Dempsey), who we later learn is working for the Decepticons. As soon as Sam starts his new job he finds himself involved in “dark side of the moon” conspiracies, and is attacked by Decepticons. Sam manages to escape to an army base and is reunited with his Autobot friend Bumble Bee. He also enlists the aid of an old friend, Seymour Simmons (John Turturro) in the latest fight to save the world from the Decepticons

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Robots; conspiracy theories; alien invasion; betrayal and revenge

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon features prolonged sequences of intense science fiction action violence and destruction. While most of the violence is enacted between giant metal live robots, the violence is brutal, with copious amounts of blood and gore depicted. Examples include:

  • The opening scene of the film depicts an epic space battle between giant robots and spacecraft. We see laser fire and explosions with both robot machines and spacecraft destroyed.
  • A transformer robot gives the orders “Kill them all” to a group of robots. A sinister bird-like robot enters a house and approaches a young child and a mother in a menacing manner. In another house the same robot approaches a man and a woman and we hear the woman scream. Crime scene photographs flashed on the screen indicate that the transformer robots murdered a number of people, and in one instance we see the legs of a dead man with blood on the ground.  
  • A bird-like transformer pushes a man through a plate glass window. People gather at their office windows to view the man’s body on the sidewalk below and a man says that the dead man’s remains were all over the sidewalk. 
  • A copy machine transform into a robot bird and attacks Sam, firing laser beams and chasing Sam through the building.
  • When stopped at an army barrier, Sam screams loudly in anger and then drives his car towards the barrier. The barrier raises Sam’s car into the air. Sam is dragged out of the car by a soldier, with whom Sam has a scuffle.
  • In a bar scene, a woman points a shotgun at a man, who disarms the woman by hitting her in the head with the gun and breaking her arm (we hear the sound of bones snapping), and then throws the woman over his shoulder.
  • A head-on collision between three transformers results in bloody and gory wounds.
  • A transformer throws a large spiked sword at a second transformer, the sword causing a graphic bloody wound.      
  • When a teleportation device is activated and dozens of transformers come through a gateway we see mayhem and destruction as their emergence from the gateway causes cars to collide with each other. People scream as they run from the transformer and the transformers open fire on the civilians and smash into cars and trucks.
  • A car morphs into a transformer, trapping Carly inside. Menacing looking tentacles with knife-like talons on the ends come from underneath the car and slither towards Carly’s face. Two men hold Sam prisoner and another man threatens that the transformer will slaughter Carly if Sam does not do as ordered.
  • While being held by two security guards, Sam spits in a man’s face; the image is very detailed and graphic.
  • A transformer with a somewhat scorpion appearance including pincer styled hooks is placed on Sam’s wrist and morphs into a wrist watch. The pincers dig into Sam’s wrist, causing him to wince in pain. 
  • When transporters invade Chicago, we see mayhem and a city in ruins. When people are hit by transformer weapons they appear to disintegrate with bones and skull left rolling on the ground. Terrified children run for their lives through the city ruins, and people are covered in ash. A subway train is thrown off its tracks and later we see the train wreckage filled with the limp bodies of men and women.    
  • Sam, Carly and a number of soldiers are in a high-rise building that is attacked by a gigantic transformer with multiple tentacles. It tears the building in half. Sam and Co sliding out of control through a window and then down the outside of the building to drop back inside. Sam grabs Carly’s arm preventing her from falling but another man falls to his death.
  • Optimus Prime fires missiles at a large worm-like transporter and see blood-like fire spewing from its mouth as it dies.    
  • Sam fires a grappling hook into the eye of a transformer and is lifted into the air and whipped around. He stabs the transformer in the eye and it explodes.
  • Sam and a second man have a brutal fight. Sam punches the man in the face while the man stomps on his chest and then tries to push Sam off a high-rise building. Sam pushes the man into an electrified pillar electrocuting him; and we see his body convulsing and falling to the ground.
  • A transformer, pleading for his life, is dragged off and shot in the back of the head and we see his head rolling along the ground. A second transformer is dragged off to be executed and we see Sam crying.
  • Optimus Prime, wielding a huge power sword, slices and chops his way through other transformers.
  • During an extended fight Optimus uses his sword to rip the head and spine from Megatron, while Sentinel Prime manages to sever Optimus Prime’s arm. At the end of the fight Optimus Prime shoots Sentinel Prime in the head; we see him lying on the ground with part of his head blown away. 

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Parents of younger children are strongly cautioned that, in addition to the violence described above, Transformers: Dark of the Moon contains frequent images and scenes capable of disturbing young children. Examples include:   

  • A variety of scary evil transformers, including one like a vulture with a mouth full of sharp teeth, a  hydra style worm with many tentacles and mouths full of razor sharp teeth, Megatron who has half of his head  blown away and a scorpion that turns into a watch.and tortures its victims into submission.
  • Terrified children run through apocalyptic styled war zone.
  • Gigantic flying craft with a creepy insect-like appearance.
  • A number of scenes contain graphic images of blood and gore.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group will also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likley to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • The Transformers series of films is based upon Hasbro toys that are marketed to young children
  • General Motors, Mercedes, and Corvette; prices are mentioned.
  • Apple computers and iPods
  • Nike, Adidas

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • We see a photograph of Carly in form-fitting jeans standing next to a man and Sam makes reference to Carly’s jeans being too tight. 
  • Reference made to a man being asked to frisk Carly and refusing
  • Sam’s mother makes reference to Sam’s girlfriend being a “World class hottie” implying that he wouldn’t get another one without a big penis.  
  • In one scene a man says that a sports car was modelled on a woman’s appearance.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Carly, wearing one of Sam’s shirts and bikini styled underwear, climbs on top of Sam and straddles him while he is lying in bed
  • Sam pins Carly against a wall and she wraps her legs around his, the pair kiss
  • In several scenes women wear low-cut tops and throughout the film Carly wears very tight dresses.
  • A man shoves Sam into a toilet cubicle and straddles him while Sam is sitting on the toilet seat. The man straddling Sam then gets up and pulls down his pants reaches towards his crotch (not shown) and pulls out a wad of papers. Sam then pushes his attacker and both men stumble out of the cubicle to find another man standing there looking at them.   

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Alcoholic drinks of various types in bars and at parties

Coarse language

The film contains coarse language, name calling and putdowns, including:

  • The word ‘f**k’ mouthed; freakin’; that sucks; sad piece of shit; up my arse; O my god; bitch; dick-head; what the hell; arsehole; you got some balls; bullshit; screw them up

In a nutshell

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the third in the Transformers series It is a science fiction action adventure, targeting an adolescent male audience. Parents should note that this film seems to have been raised a notch or two from its predecessors in terms of the amount of violence, the level of brutality and the amount of blood and gore. At 149 minutes, it is also very long. Although Transformers toys are specifically marketed for very young children, this film is not at all suitable for children and contains scenes and characters capable of scaring and disturbing young children.

The main positive messages from this movie are:

  • freedom is a right that everyone should have.
  • make a stand for what you believe in 
  • the need of the many should not outweigh the need of the few.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with older children include selflessness, courage and bravery.However, parents may wish to discuss the portrayal of female characters in this film, including amount of time given to them and the stereotypical manner in which they are depicted.

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