In “Imaginationland: Part 1,” the tenth episode of the eleventh season of South Park, Al-Queda terrorists attack our imagination. The U.S. Military has no idea how to fix this problem, so they consult some Hollywood filmmakers in an attempt to get one. One of these Hollywood filmmakers is Michael Bay. The consultation goes something like this:
U.S. Military General: Mr. Bay, can you think of any ideas to outwit these terrorists?
Michael Bay: I believe I can. We start by making a big CG building and then we have a meteor go “Vrosh!” And it, and it’s all like “Craugh!” And motorcycles burst into flame while they jump over these helicopters! An eighteen-wheeler spins out of control and it’s all like, “Braush!” And this huge tanker full of dynamite is like “Brau! Brau! Ffffftttt…”
U.S. Military General: Those aren’t ideas, those are special effects!
Michael Bay: [beat] I don’t understand the difference.
He doesn’t, really. But that’s just fine. Because nobody does “Vrosh,” “Craugh,” “Braush” and “Brau! Brau! Ffffftttt…” quite like Michael Bay.
And that’s pretty much Transformers: Dark of the Moon in a nutshell — a big, loud, cracking, pulsating nutshell that’s ready to burst into flame a thousand times over and shower little nutshell pieces all over the entire population of a major American city.
You need to see this thing, even if you’re not a fan of either the giant alien robots or of Mr. Bay. You need to see this movie, in a theater, in 3D, and preferably in IMAX. It truly is a sight to see — a big, beautiful, shining symphony of chaos, especially in the final act, which involves the Decepticons (including Shockwave, who’s almost as awesome as fans have hoped he would be) completely leveling Chicago for what seems like an hour’s worth of screen time. If nothing else, you’ll be floored by the amount of work and artistry required to make this sequence (and this entire movie) come to life — there were a lot of late nights and short tempers on this flick, for sure.
Yeah, yeah, it’s “darker” and “more serious” than the wretched second movie, Revenge of the Fallen, but really, who gives a shit? No matter what the damn “tone” of the movie is, the script is still as much an incoherent mess as any that’s come before it. We’re not going to point fingers at that any more, because that seems to be something that the filmmakers inexplicably just can’t get right with this franchise. So be it.
So we’ll look at Dark of the Moon as a glass that’s half-full rather than half-empty. It’s a brash, boisterous, incredible spectacle, one that will leave you exhausted and perhaps even exhilarated. Optimus Prime gets to kick so much ass in this. Leonard Nimoy voices the Autobot leader’s predecessor, Sentinel Prime, which is all sorts of geek cool. Laserbeak, the Decepticon’s bird-like spy, is in this, and he’s creepy and lizard-like and awesome. None of the robots fart, and there’s no sign of Mudflap and Skids, the illiterate robot “brothers” with big lips and blackface that were responsible for plunging Revenge of the Fallen to its lowest lows. John Turturro thankfully sits on the bench through most of this one. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley isn’t as hot as Megan Fox, but she’s certainly hot enough. And Shia LaBeouf sweats and freaks out and screams a lot.
So go see Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It is what it is, and it’s damn good at being it.