Director: Michael Bay
MPAA Rating: PG-13
The theme song for the Transformers cartoon in the '80s always claimed that they were "more than meets the eye," and Michael Bay's bombastic blockbusters have been almost more than the eye can handle on the big screen. At home, with you at the controls, the never-ending battle between Autobots and Decepticons is more enjoyable and you'll be able to catch more details than the sometimes overwhelming theatrical experience allows.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon has the coolest opening of any of the three films by blending real footage and audio of President Kennedy and Walter Cronkite during the space race of the '60s with new footage of the Apollo 11 astronauts discovering a crashed Transformers ship on the moon. The action then cuts to the present day where Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is struggling to find a job and do something that matters after helping to save the world twice with Megan Fox. We learn that Fox's character dumped Sam (the actress actually wasn't invited back because, among other things, she called Bay a "Nazi") and Sam has shacked up with the equally hot Carly Spencer (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).
The action picks up after Optimus Prime retrieves the dormant Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) from the wreckage on the moon and resurrects him. This was all part of the Decepticons’ plan since, unbeknownst to Optimus and his fellow Autobots, Sentinel has made a deal with the Decepticons to enslave humanity and activate a space bridge that will bring their home planet of Cybertron to Earth. The ensuing final battle in Chicago between Autobots and Decepticons features jaw-dropping CGI effects that are blended with real footage of skydivers zipping between the skyscrapers.
The good news is that Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a marked improvement over the last installment, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. There are no ridiculous, jive-talking Transformers to be found this time and there are welcome familiar faces like Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and even the actual astronaut Buzz Aldrin meeting with Optimus. Franchise newcomers Frances McDormand and John Malkovich bring some Oscar cred to the giant-robot movies with their roles as director of national intelligence and Sam's boss, respectively. Patrick Dempsey also chews into his role as Carly's boss—a smarmy auto collector secretly in bed with the Decepticons.
It is impossible not to be blown away by the level of detail in the effects, especially when our heroes are sliding through crumbling skyscrapers in Chicago that are being torn apart by Decepticons. Bay keeps the action moving along at a brisk pace despite the film's excessive 154-minute runtime, and there are some signature Bay moments that will make you grin ear to ear. At one point, we are treated to a slo-mo shot of Victoria's Secret model Huntington-Whiteley—vacant-eyed and lips pursed like she is saying the first syllable of "Thursday" for eternity—as she walks towards the camera while cars are tossed and explosions go off behind her. It's like she's protected by an invisible force field of supermodel hotness and is there to remind us that, despite what you think of Bay as a director or the Transformers in general, his movies are always gorgeous to look at.
Best extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray are barebones affairs with only a digital copy included. All the extras as well as a Blu-ray 3D version are being saved for a future combo pack, and a coupon is included for $10 off that version when it is eventually released.