(Oh, what's that? Not that good anymore, now that you're not a kid? Surprise.)
Anyway, I had a ton of fun watching it. Nobody does "demolition porn" like Michael Bay. Of course, nobody does plot holes like he does either, but one could argue that he's keeping Transformers true to its original form, because the 1986 movie had more holes than Swiss cheese.
(Seriously. Go watch it. I'll wait.)
Anyway, in thinking of a way to review the movie, I figured I'd just go through character-by-character and tell each of their stories briefly. Major spoilers ahead, so come back and read this after you've seen Dark of the Moon in theaters. Ready? Here we go.
Basic plot: back during the Cybertron war, some Autobots got on a ship called the Ark and tried to escape with some secret technology that could have changed the war. Their ship was shot down, and it drifted through space until it crashed on our moon in the 1960s. America and the USSR then engaged in a space race to get to the moon and examine the ship. We brought some parts back, and they've been in hiding. Present day, come to find that the ship was captained by Optimus Prime's predecessor, and the tech he carried was for a massive teleportation bridge. The Decepticons activate the bridge and teleport an army from the moon to Earth.*
**I don't remember the explanation of how the army got there. I think there actually was one, but I just don't remember. Also, a deep analysis will probably find some plot points that are temporally incongruent with the previous two films. I don't care.
OPTIMUS PRIME: We get to see more of his history, and his relationship with his mentor, Sentinel Prime. We see him get his hands dirty in battle the way kings of old would lead troops into war. And while he doesn't revel in destroying his Transformer brethren, he sure doesn't hesitate when the time calls for it. The final battle between him, Sentinel and Megatron shows that when some bad dude needs his head chopped off, Optimus will do it. He's a great character in this one.
SENTINEL PRIME: Recovered from the Ark and revived by Optimus Prime's Matrix of Leadership, Sentinel learns of the end of Cybertron, and realizes that he has a way to save his home planet. He just has to betray the Autobots and enslave the humans in order to do it. After five Autobots and a ton of humans risk their necks to protect him from a Decepticon ambush, he turns around and shoots Ironhide in the back, killing him. He doesn't go 100% evil, but he's definitely bent. He defects because he feels its the right thing to do, and ends up answering to Optimus for it. The fight between Optimus and Sentinel was just epic. Two sides of the same coin. Gandalf versus Saruman. Just amazing. PS, Optimus wins.
SOUNDWAVE: Hey hey, they got him out of orbit! He's not a satellite anymore! He's a sick Mercedes roadster, ostensibly given to the new female lead as a "work perk," then later revealed to be a trap. In the final fight, he dies by a headshot from Bumblebee.
SHOCKWAVE: Heavily marketed, and heavily underused. He had an awesome intro, totally ominous, like there was some sick backstory to why he was there on Earth, piloting some huge tentacle-driller-machine...but we never got it. In fact, he only had one word of dialog we could understand, and that was "Optimus." The rest of the time he was speaking the Decepticon language. Oh, and he never transformed either. He had his moments in the final fight in Chicago, right up until he died via a headshot, probably from Bumblebee, but I think it was Optimus who got him.
BUMBLEBEE: For the first time he's really away from Sam, at least in the beginning, when he's off working with the Autobots to protect Earth. But he and Sam team up for a couple of epic rides. And Bee is as heroic as ever.
SIDESWIPE: Somehow he's a convertible Corvette this time, and they don't bother with the holographic drivers. I question the wisdom of that decision. Sideswipe gets his moment in the highway battle protecting Sentinel, and later in Chicago fighting Decepticons.
MIRAGE: I don't understand why they called him "Dino" instead of "Mirage." This isn't the freaking Flintstones. He was a Ferrari, and had a cool Italian accent. His moment of awesomeness came in the fight to protect Sentinel from the Dreads.
WHEELJACK: Like Mirage, they didn't call him by his name, but referred to him as "Q", like a James Bond character. His head made him look like Einstein, and he was a scientist. He died in Chicago, executed by Soundwave shortly after being taken prisoner.
THE WRECKERS: Topspin (blue), Leadfoot (red), Roadbuster (green.) Nothing says AMERICA like freaking NASCAR vehicles loaded to the kills with machine guns. These dudes primarily stayed in NASA custody, working on the Autobots' spaceship, because--to quote one of the human characters, "We don't let 'em out much...they're @$$holes." And they were. But when it came time to throw down, these dudes were merciless.
MEGATRON: I liked the first Megatron scene in this movie, although it makes absolutely no sense. Why is he in Africa? I'll accept that he stayed there after the Egypt incident in Revenge of the Fallen, but then how did he get to America later? No ship, and he doesn't fly anymore. He turns into a beat up Mack Titan, and in his robot mode he looks like a ravaged desert traveler complete with cloak and shotgun. The look totally worked as far as awesomeness, but not for practicality. I guess it went to show that he lacked the resources to save himself after the second movie, and was surviving as a pile of scrap in the desert.
Still, when he met up with Sentinel in Washington DC and then made his way to Chicago, I felt like he was regaining some of his former glory. Then he picked a fight with Sentinel, and later Optimus, and he got his head handed to him.
The moment was perfect, too: he tried to play the classic villain card, saying to Optimus, "After all...what would you be without me?" (Because villains define their heroes, right?)
Optimus simply replies, "Time to find out."
WHEELIE and BRAINS: Wheelie was the RC truck from TF2, and he's joined by an equally small guy named Brains who turns into a laptop. They managed not to be crude, and to be more than just annoying little mechanical Jar-Jars. When it came time to shine in Chicago, they captured a Decepticon fighter, flew it up into one of the larger ships, and tore the ship's controls apart from the inside, crashing it into the river. Presumed dead, they have a hero moment.
RATCHET: He goes up to the moon with Optimus to recover Sentinel, and...doesn't really do much else, just helps with the fighting.
IRONHIDE: As stated above, Ironhide gets betrayed by Sentinel and is killed. He gets an insanely brave moment though, because as all the Autobot sportscars are making a mad dash to get Sentinel safe inside NEST headquarters, Ironhide floors it back out into the action and rushes head-on to take out two of the Dreads by himself. (Sideswipe gives him some backup.) They end up in a Mexican standoff, two Dreads, two Autobots, and when the fight gets real, Ironhide kills both of the Dreads. It makes his bold sacrifice all the more tragic when Sentinel turns around and caps him. He died well.
STARSCREAM: I must say, I am disappointed in Starscream. As much as I hate those who bellyache about the original cartoon, I'm on their side with this one. Starscream wasn't an unbending sycophant, he was a traitor! He tried to subjugate Megatron at every turn! If Megatron was so obviously weak, Starscream would've capped him and taken over as ruler. Instead he got taken out like a punk, killed by none other than...Sam Witwicky.
Yes. Sam Witwicky killed Starscream.
That's all for this post. In the next one I'll discuss the human characters--because they were all equally interesting as well, and even a little inspiring.