During the 1969 Apollo 11 mission, humans discovered a spaceship which had crash landed on the moon’s surface and it has been treated as top-secret ever since. When the Autobots find out, they seek to discover the secrets of what was Cybertron’s last hope of survival and, among the wreckage, they discover their previous leader, a comatose Sentinel Prime who was guarding technology capable of creating a space bridge between worlds. Meanwhile, Sam Whitwicky is enjoying his new relationship with Carly but the Autobots’ troubles soon cross over into Sam’s life and he once again must find the courage to help them.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) – Director: Michael Bay

Is Transformers: Dark of the Moon appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 154 mins

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Josh Duhamel

Genre: Action, Fantasy


Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ is the third instalment of Michael Bay’s movies based on the Transformers action figures, TV series and movie of the 1980’s. While it is undeniably action-packed, the plot is predictable, tedious and boring and with a length of 2½ hours, watching this movie is a rather arduous task. Like with the previous movies, as many of the Transformers are the same grey/silver colour, when they are involved in a battle, it is very difficult to tell each one apart and it therefore becomes hard to care about the grand-scale action sequences.

Main protagonist, Sam Whitwicky, has become thoroughly unlikeable. He is arrogant, obnoxious, and jealous of his new girlfriend’s job which involves a rich and suave boss who clearly has amorous intentions towards her. However, Sam’s virulent jealousy is nothing to do with anything that actually happens, more an underlying inferiority complex with distasteful tinges of misogyny. Sadly, it appears that Rosie Huntington-Whitely (a Victoria’s Secret model) was not cast solely for her acting skills, and Bay’s choice to dress her in tight and incredibly short dresses designed to show off her curves gratuitously reveal the target audience for this movie: teenage boys. While providing plenty of action and certainly being a better movie than ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’, ‘Dark of the Moon’ does little to redeem the ‘Transformers’ franchise and is unlikely to draw in new fans.

Unfortunately, Michael Bay’s preoccupation with chauvinistic characters and mindless action is on full display here. This movie somehow enjoyed enormous box office success at the time of its release (possibly due to its enticing trailers) but once the awe of the spectacle has worn off, what is left is a generic and tedious action flick.


While there is a lot of questionable content that parents may wish to be aware before their kids watch ‘Dark of the Moon’, we will highlight the most extreme examples. If you are happy for your child watch these moments, the rest of the movie should be fine.

Most of the action sequences are quite violent. One of the antagonist Decepticons takes the form of a large bird and is particularly aggressive and threatening. It kills a large bird of prey as it flies past for no reason and is usually involved in the killing of humans who have been caught up in the war between the Transformers. Whenever the Transformers are hurt, lots of red liquid pours out of the wounds which looks a lot like blood. Some of the weapons used against humans cause them to be disintegrated and although these moments are not usually too graphic, there is one particular time when bones and skulls roll along the floor.

One of the human characters is captured by someone who is working for the Decepticons and uses a small robot as a tracker on his arm. It embeds itself into his nervous system, causing him to yell in agony. This robot stays in place for a while and each time it controls this character, it clearly causes him great pain.

The dialogue is absolutely littered with various moderate curse words, including some abbreviations, sexual references and homophobic slang. Stronger words are also used, one (which is said by one of the comedy robots and therefore more likely to be repeated by children) is cut off half way through. Carly, Sam’s girlfriend, is lusted after and objectified by almost all of the male cast. When she is first introduced, she is only wearing underwear and a man’s shirt. The camera follows her up the full length of a flight of stairs from behind, focusing on her bottom. The way she is dressed as well as her interaction with Sam, who is in bed, makes it clear that they are in a physical relationship but he is reluctant to confirm his love despite being very possessive of her. One character dramatically moves his head to look pointedly at her bottom and another jokingly reprimands a male colleague for not ‘frisking her’ when he had the chance. Sam’s prowess in the bedroom is commented on to explain how he might be able to get another ‘hot one’ after he and Carly have an argument.



While not necessarily representing them, ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ has clearly been designed to appeal to teenage boys with its over the top action sequences and misogynistic messages and it is unlikely to be enjoyable to anyone else. Children may enjoy the excitement and spectacle but whether parents are happy for them to be exposed to the bad language and objectifying of woman will be a decision to be made by based on individual standards. We would suggest that this movie is not appropriate for kids under the age of 12. A discussion of how the messages of the movie relate to everyday life in order for impressionable young viewers to understand them better may be advisable if it is felt necessary.

  • Violence:  4/5 (there are many action sequences which result in the deaths of both incidental and established characters. One of the Decepticons is killed by an axe and the Autobot responsible drops the axe, which is embedded in the victim’s head so that it takes up the majority of the screen)
  • Emotional Distress: 3/5 (several established characters are killed and mourned by their loved ones. There are also times when characters are either thought to be dead or about to be killed before being rescued)
  • Fear Factor: 3/5 (The Deceptions are very threatening, particularly the one that has taken the form of a bird)  
  • Sexual Content: 5/5 (While there is no direct sexual activity, we feel that the way Carly dresses and the way other characters respond to her warrants a high rating here. There is also an implied history of a one night stand between two other characters)            
  • Bad Language: 5/5 (constant moderate cursing and blasphemy, some stronger words are also used)
  • Dialogue: 3/5 (some violent dialogue is used, one character comments that they ‘almost had their face cut off’ and, when several Autobots kill a Decepticon, one of them sarcastically comments ‘this is going to hurt…a lot’)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of courage, fighting against evil, protecting the weak and choosing the right side to fight for.

Words by Laura Record


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