Transformers: Dark of the Moon is a spectacular movie. I mean that literally. It is full of spectacle. And it's more than worth the price of the 3D admission because of it. Say what you want about Michael Bay and his talent (or lack thereof), but he knows how to make a visually stunning movie. And, you know, I think there might not be anything wrong with that. Let me give you an example:
1998 saw the release of two movies in which Earth would face destruction: Deep Impact and Armageddon. Deep Impact focuses on relationships in the face of tragedy. Armageddon is directed by Bay. My preference, by far, is Deep Impact. It has more story (and scientific accuracy). Wait, let me rephrase that. The story of Impact is about the people, the relationships, and what they do when faced with a catastrophic event. The impending catastrophe could have been anything, really; it's just that it happens to be a comet. Armageddon is about the catastrophe itself, dealing with the thing that is the catastrophic event. It's full of spectacle. One is a drama, one is an action movie. I've known more than a few people who cited Armageddon as their favorite movie ever at one time or another, and the film grossed more than half a billion dollars, 200 million more than Impact. People, for good or ill, like spectacle.
These two movies took the same story (literally, since Disney copied the story of Impact and initiated Armageddon as a counter film), but Bay was able to realize the story's potential for dazzlement, drama (not in the sense of being a drama but of capitalizing on the drama of the event), and sheer Wowness and make the higher grossing film. I'm not saying he made a better film, certainly not a better story, but he made the more appealing one. There is talent in that. Probably a lot of talent.
At any rate, Dark of the Moon, like Revenge of the Fallen, has taken a critical bashing. However, it has grossed more internationally than Transformers 2 (it already has the highest gross of the the three Transformers movies and isn't finished, yet) and may pass it domestically, also. All of that to say, despite what is probably a weak story, people like it. And the critics hate, and I do mean hate, Bay for it.
Here's the thing, my wife and I are extremely hard on sci-fi shows. We routinely scoff at them and make fun of them. Even shows we like. Like Stargate. We watched a whole season of Warehouse 13, groaning and making fun of it the whole time. I watch Eureka with my kids while rolling my eyes at the ridiculous plots and bad science. And don't even get me started on Star Trek (I have just two words: red matter). And yet... and yet... I give Transformers a pass on all of this. Why? Because I loved it as a kid. There it is: nostalgia at work. I don't care if it has bad science.
The story for Dark of the Moon, when looked at objectively, is... I don't even have words for it. The idea of transporting a planet across the galaxy through a man made, well, robot made wormhole... Let's just say it more than stretches the fabric of science. Or even science fiction. But you know what? That was the plot for one of the early story arcs in the cartoon back before I bothered to question that sort of thing, so my reaction is more "wow! I remember that!" rather than "wow! That's so stupid!" And I can't help it. Oh, and the thing with the Autobots going up in the rocket and faking their deaths... that's from the cartoon, too.
All of that to say that the critics can bash the movie all they want, it's not going to change anything. They should have spent more time watching Transformers when they were kids. Or something. Maybe they need lessons in the suspension of disbelief. I guess what I'm saying is this:
I'm not a bandwagon kind of guy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I'm cynical (just ask my wife). I'm critical (my wife would say overly critical). I'm suspicious, especially of things that are popular. However, I'm also not going to bash something or forsake it merely for being popular. [I have a cousin who did that with U2 back when The Joshua Tree came out. Although he had loved them prior to that, because they were suddenly the popular band, he decided he couldn't like them anymore. Because other people did.] Mostly, I just make my own decisions about what I like, and I'm not going to allow what other people think about it influence me one way or the other.
So, yeah, I had a lot of fun with Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Say what you will about Megan Fox, Bay shouldn't have dumped her. Or, at least, if he really had to dump her, he should have found a better replacement. It's not like Megan set the bar very high. Yeah, she's attractive, but attractive actresses in Hollywood are a dime a dozen. Shake a tree, and they'll fall out on your head. What I'm saying is if all he wanted was attractive or hot or whatever, he could have done a better job, because the new girl is not Megan Fox. And! And! Here's the real issue: the new girl makes Megan look like Meryl Streep in the acting department. That's saying something... I'm not sure what, exactly, it's saying, but it is. Not Megan Fox was easily the worst part of the movie.
Megatron looked cool in a tattered cloak. Yeah, a giant robot wearing a tattered cloak is kind of dumb, but it looked cool!
I liked Patrick Dempsey. I thought he did a great job in that role.
And, of course, Shia. I think he's a good actor; I just wish he didn't think so highly of himself. But this is about the movie, not about him as a person.
I love John Turturro and how he brings off the crazy, conspiracy theory persona.
Oh, and John Malkovich, whom I always want to like but often can't, was great.
I suppose, in the end, what I can say is this: If you like the Transformers, there's a good chance you'll like this movie. Especially, if they are something out of your childhood. If you like lots of action and don't really care about whether the story makes any sense, you should like this movie. However, if Transformers mean nothing to you and story is the most important element of your movie-going experience, you'll probably want to stay away.
And just to add as a disclaimer:
I'm not a Bay fan, no matter how this sounds. I didn't care for Armageddon. The Island sucked. I've never been a fan of Bad Boys even though I really like Will Smith (he just wasn't enough to make those movies work for me). However, I do think he has a certain amount of talent. Or a certain kind of talent. Certainly a talent for making big, blockbuster movies. And I could tell you stories, weird stories, about him from being at Skywalker Ranch, but I'm not going to go there, right now. I do like what he's done with the Transformers, though. I'm already looking forward to the next one.