So, let it be known that "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" is a colossal failure as a film. Huge. There are plot holes and time line inconsistencies and sometimes entire characters are completely forgotten until the script calls on them to save and or ruin the day. Megatron, the main villian of the entire blessed franchise, disappears for 20 minutes during the end of the flick for crying out loud! 

There is no subtext or context or things to ponder or discuss. You won't come away from this film culturally enriched, feeling like a better person, or with anything positive to say about the message of the picture. If you do, maybe it's time to book a one way flight to Cybertron.  

But as a movie? As a summer-action-popcorn-blow-stuff-up-and-cheer-in-excitement-as-the -city-of-my-residence-is-blown-to-little-tiny-concrete-bits romp? My God it's fantastic! The cinematography and special effects and humor combine to make the movie greater than the sum of it's parts, and the best adaption of the Transformers mythos (Does fiction based on toys have mythos?) fans could hope to see.

So, It's a few years after the events of thoroughly confusing Saharan adventure Sam Witwicky (Shia Labeouf) and company went on in the second Transformers movie, and things are back to the status quo. The Autobots lead by Optimus Prime maintain a shaky alliance with the  U.S military, attempting to rid the world of the pesky Decepticons, despite the addition of a new intelligence chief played by Francis McDormand.   

The movie gives us a bit of alternate history, explaining the space race was an attempt to make it to the moon in order to make first contact with what could be extra terrestrial life, they turns out to be autobots, with the ship's Captain, Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy), forced into a state of suspended animation. 

Meanwhile Sam is busy being a jobless graduate with a degree in macroeconomics, angry at the fact he saved the world twice and nothing positive has come from it. Oh,  and he also happens to be dating another bodacious and adorable woman who says cute things, screams in distress when appropriate, and knows her cars.

I don't think Michael Bay will get the credit he deserves for this film. To evoke the relatively believable performances he does from actors who are largely playing against empty space is a feat. Especially when you consider the relatively sub-par performances in other Sci-Fi CGI fests like Green Lantern or the wooden nature of the Star Wars prequels. The characters are funny, and human, and we like them despite their one demensional nature.

Part of me really wants Michael Bay to put down his dynamite and computer graphics and pick up a whoopie cushion and a doobie, and direct a straight comedy. Characters react realistically enough to the earth shattering events around them, and comedy beats come at just the right moments to pop an audience, and they often come from very human places. 

Also weird and pleasant about this film is that it is literally packed with homage after homage to past summer blockbusters. Star Trek is referenced at least a half dozen times, partly by Nimoy's character, and these little in jokes and asides, including a planetary destruction JJ Abrams should sue over, makes me believe Michael Bay gets it. After two movies trying to make us forget the silly cartoons and ridiculous nature of robots who are also cars, it's about time the movie has some fun with itself and it's genre. For example, why *do* Decepticons get all the cool shit anyway? 

Ultimately, I don't know what to say. Things blow up real good, and the flick really is a triumph of graphic art, computer and practical special effects. Things make just a hint more of sense this time around, and for the most part you can tell the good robots from the bad robots, which is really the most important thing in a movie featuring robots punching each other.   

Anyway, for 12.50 you're getting ups and downs, cheeseball lines and melodrama, but my god does stuff blow up real good. Alas, every critic I know and respect (and I hope wants to hire me) is going to tell you Transformers: Dark of the Moon, is a waste of your time. 

But what a spectacular waste it is.