If Michael Bay had executive-produced the September 11th terrorist attacks, they would have been way more awesome. The buildings would have leaned over sideways and people would have run around the tilting scenery with machine guns and clambered and slid like puppies on a fresh-waxed floor. But Bay's disaster wouldn't make you feel terrified and tiny, the way you felt on September 11th. No, it would make you feel goofy and giddy and kind of numbly satisfied, the way all the best summertime product makes you feel. And lo, Michael Bay said it shall be so, and it was so in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and lo, it was good. (The scene comes near the end of the movie, and its only problem is the soundtrack: The nervous violins punctuated with flatulent BWAAAAAPs was stolen directly from Inception.)

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Look. You're not going to get me to admit that Transformers has a great plot. It has something to do with robots that turn into cars, and evil robots that turn into planes and TVs, and then they fight for well over two hours. Every character is a complete douchebag, with Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky, a whiny rage-baby who often has nothing more to do than scream impotently, hogging screen time as the biggest douche of all. Some genuinely gifted actors (John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Ken Jeong, Alan Tudyk rocking a terrible accent) drop by because they heard someone was handing out big paychecks for free. The action stops for those weird racist and sexist asides that you have to expect from Bay.

But it's totally worth it for those few moments where Bay grabs you by the ears and careens around in your eyeballs for a while. Just when you're about to get up and search for food because the exposition has gotten too thick and dumb, Bay will slap you in the back of the head and shove a tense, conspiratorial scene in a bathroom stall down your face, or force you to wonder at the strange beauty of an exploded rocket at sunset. And he has a great sense for 3-D; Transformers joins Coraline, Avatar, and Cave of Forgotten Dreams as the fourth movie to understand that modern 3-D techniques aren't useful for quick jumps, but rather for providing a depth of field, a sumptuousness that mere high-def cameras can't ever match. Goddamnit, it's a spectacle, and Bay is a genius of spectacle, so you might as well line up now, sucker. recommended

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