Is it as bad as Transformers 2?
No. Not even close.
Really? Does that mean it's good?
No. Not even close. But it's not a wretched cinematic atrocity against man and god, so I consider that an improvement.
Well, before we get into the plot, can you sum up your feelings on the film for people who don't want to be spoiled?
Yes I can. I've seen a lot of reviews that compare the movie to Michael Bay dangling his keys in front of the audience's face, as if they were babies that were easily distracted by shiny objects, but that's not strictly accurate. Imagine Michael Bay staring at you and pulling out his keys once every 10 minutes for 10 to 15 seconds. After an hour and a half, he pulls out his keys and leaves them out for an entire hour. Also, the keys are now exploding.
...so is the movie worth seeing?
Depends on how much you like keys.
The (spoiler-filled) FAQ continues after the jump!
How does Transformers 3 fit in with the first two Transformers movies?
It doesn't. At all. None of it makes the slightest bit of sense if you remember an iota of the first two movies. Of course, Michael Bay films presuppose you've forgotten what you saw two minutes ago, let alone two years ago, so it's hardly the film's most grievous flaw.
Where do we start?
At Cybertron! In the '60s! During the last days of the Autobot/Decepticon war, the legendary Sentinel Prime gets on the Ark with a device that could bring an end to the fighting. Of course, the Decepticons blow up part of the ship, and it ends up crashing on the moon.
Man, if you're going to get hung up on minor inconsistencies like that we're going to be here all day. Save your breath for the big shit that makes no sense. I promise there's plenty.
Okay. What then?
Well, some good ol' Amurricans detect the moon crash, and start the whole space program to see what's the hell is going on. Eventually, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon in '69, pretend they're going on an innocent moonwalk, but secretly check out the Ark. They find some unconscious robots. And then they leave and no one ever goes back.
Hey, I didn't write the last 40 years of U.S. space exploration. They find a giant alien spaceship, and then everyone decides to ignore it.
Is that one of the big things that makes no sense?
Yes. Now, back to the present! The Decepticons are missing again, so the Autobots -- in a decision only Michael Bay could or would have made -- are secretly helping the U.S. military hunt terrorists. When I "secretly," I mean "despite having incredibly visible fights in a major U.S. city, a significant portion of Shanghai, and destroying a decent amount of the pyramids in the previous two films." And when I say "hunt," I of course mean "blow the living shit out of." Bumblebee fires a missile at an Iraqi bad guy from less than 20 feet away. U-S-A-! U-S-A!
The Decepticons aren't really gone, are they?
Of course not. They're... uh... they're hiding in the African Sahara. With zebras.
They're not hiding with vehicles of some sort? Because they transform into vehicles? And are robots in disguise?
Nope. They're in the Sahara with zebras. If it helps, Megatron wears a cloak with a hood... I guess so people won't recognize him, maybe? Even though he's a giant fucking robot? And only hanging out with fellow Decepticons?
That doesn't help at all.
Well, that's all I got. Anyways, they have an evil plan, which isn't revealed for a while, because it's time to hang out with Shia the Beef!
Okay, what's Sam Witwicky up to?
Well, the Beef has fallen on tough times. Despite saving the world twice -- which he reminds people of incessantly -- he's been abandoned by the Autobots and the U.S. military for being kind of a douchebag. He's now jobless with a piece of shit car, and forced to live for free in the gigantic, gorgeously furnished D.C. loft apartment of his super-hot, incredibly rich girlfriend Carly.
Poor guy. Shia is desperately looking for a job, which he can't get because he keeps Beefing up during all the interviews and spazzing out. After many, many interviews -- which we know, because Bay makes us watch them all -- he's hired by John Malkovich to work in the mailroom. And then we get to see him deliver mail for a while.
Hey, at least it's not the Twins.
And there's a ton more shit without Transformers in it. Shia meets Carly's clearly evil boss, played by McDreamy from Grey's Anatomy. Shia gets jealous because McDreamy, like every other male in the movie, ogles Carly relentlessly. Then Sam's parents visit with far less awkwardness than in TF2, although Mother the Beef still takes time to bring up her son's penis size and the importance of vaginally pleasuring a woman.
And then McDreamy gives Carly a car that's obviously a Decepticon, and Shia is even more jealous and pissy, John Malkovich wastes some time, and all this somehow takes up an entire hour of film time. Finally, Ken Jeong shows up as basically every Ken Jeong character ever and hands the Beef some newspaper articles about people from NASA dying in mysterious ways before Laserback pushes him out a window.
Presumably he's one of those folks who worked at NASA, but it could just be because Ken Jeong is a weirdo. Anyways, Laserbeak, having completed his mission of making it look like suicide, sneaks into Shia's office as a copier and then attacks him, finally bringing him into the main plot.
None of that last sentence made any sense. If it was supposed to look like a suicide, why would Laserbeak then instantly reveal himself? How could he sneak into a busy office as copier? Why does he attack Shia?
I can't answer the first two, but as for the last question, I assume the Decepticons saw Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Okay, I'll buy that. So what's this main plot you speak of?
Well, while the movie focuses on important things like the Beef's employment search, the Autobots, along with Josh Duhamel and other unimportant humans, go to Chernobyl on a tip that Decepticons are hanging out there. There, the Autobots discover a piece of the Ark which the Decepticons somehow apparently had. Also they get attacked by a giant robot sandworm thing which kills countless humans and zero Autobots, of course.
What Decepticon is the giant robot sandworm?
Uh... Sandwormicon? Fuck, I don't know. It doesn't transform or anything. Anyways, it doesn't matter, because this is all a Decepticon ploy for the Autobots to find the Ark piece and then go to the moon.
If they just wanted the Autobots to find the Ark piece, why have the giant robot sandworm attack the Autobots at all?
Look, you have a giant robot sandworm, you might as well use it, right?
Optimus and crew land on the moon, find the Ark, along with the only-partially-dead Sentinel Prime and five "pillars" of power -- that would be the weapon that would end the Autobot-Decepticon war.
What do the pillars do?
They make a space bridge. Lets you transport things through space.
How the fuck would a space bridge end the Autobot-Decepticon war?
I haven't the foggiest. Continuing: Optimus brings Sentinel and the pillars back to Earth, and revives Sentinel with the Matrix of Leadership.
The Matrix that operated the machine that was going to blow up the sun in Transformers 2?
Yes, that one. This is the point where Prime fusses at exceedingly bitchy Secretary of Defense Frances McDormand for not revealing everything they knew about the Transformers. McDormand says the info was classified, which means either everyone forgot about the giant robot-piloted alien spaceship, or that these people remembered and didn't think it was worth bringing up when giant robots where running around in the first two movies.
So after that Laserbeak attack, Sam finally hooks up with the Autobots and tells them that the Decepticons are back and are planning something. McDormand is continues to be exceedingly bitchy. Having realized that the Decepticons are killing people who knew about the Ark, the Beef goes to get help from John Turturro, who figures out that the Decepticons are killing people who knew about the Ark.
Just go with it. Oh, I should point out that Alan Tudyk plays Turturro's gay German assistant.
That sounds awful.
It is, but compared to the wretchedness of TF2 this is still a breath of fresh air. Okay, maybe not a breath of fresh air, but a small pile of dog poop on the sidewalk that you can easily step over, as opposed to spending two and a half hours in an over-used Port-a-Potty on a hot summer's day.
I think I'd probably have rather seen Turturro's butt again.
To each his own. Anyways, then there's some business with some ex-cosmonauts who took pictures of the Ark and saw several hundred pillars being moved at some point in the '70s or '80s, I think, and Shia realizes the Decepticons have already been to the Ark and this whole thing is a trap.
That's a pretty good intuitive leap for Witwicky.
Yeah, but I'm more impressed that the Russian ex-cosmonauts carry around classified pics of the moon 30 years later to random bars.
What's the trap, exactly?
Well -- and let me point out that this is actually part of the plot which makes sense -- it turns out Sentinel Prime is the only one who can operate the pillars/Space Bridge-thing, and he could only be revived by the Matrix of Leadership. The Decepticons left that Ark piece in Chernobyl so the Autobots would find it, learn about the Ark, go get Sentinel Prime, and revive him. Because the Decepticons have several hundred pillars, and all they need is Sentinel Prime.
Actually, that is pretty cl-- wait a second. The Matrix of Leadership was lost until the end of the last movie. There's no way the Decepticons would have known that it would have been found to pull this thing off.
SHUT UP I'M TRYING TO BE COMPLIMENTARY.
Shia races back to Autobot/military HQ where Sentinel Prime is hanging out, and about an hour and a quarter in there's finally an action scene as Shia and Bumblebee race down the highway with a few random Autobots and Decepticons to get to Sentinel Prime first.
Holy shit, the first action sequence appears halfway through the movie?
The first one involving robots fighting robots. The only other action scenes are the Autobots killing unarmed terrorists and the Beef running from Laserbeak.
Why does Michael Bay keep putting all this boring shit in his action movies?
I don't know. It's like someone once told him that there was a law that people had to put the same amount of non-action scenes in films as action scenes, and so keeps including them even though he has no idea how to shoot non-action scenes and clearly doesn't care.