Straight from Moscow, Drew McWeeny's Transformers 3 review posted this morning on Hitfix, and he's calling it "easily the best film in the series" and "an overwhelming sensory experience [with] a solid hour-long action sequence in Chicago that uses everything Bay's ever done before."
Transformers 3 is basically the latest pass at the kind of "personal story on an apocalyptic scale that Bay loves to try to tell, and that other guys like Roland Emmerich and James Cameron and even Steven Spielberg love to do," McWeeny writes. "And this is the best version of it that Bay's made so far.
"For the first time since Avatar, I am going to recommend that you find the biggest and best 3D theater you can find and buy yourself a ticket, because Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, especially seen in IMAX 3D, is [the shit]. The sound mix alone is more exciting than anything in the billion-dollar-bore of Pirates 4. This is gigantic action we've never seen before, and Bay's reaction to shooting and cutting his film for 3D is to get better at what he does. It raised his game, and as a result, I feel like we just saw a dare thrown down by one of Hollywood's biggest action specialists: 'Top this.'
"The Chicago action finale is an astonishing mix of physical staging, live-action stunt work, location shooting, and visual effects, and there comes a point where I'm really not sure what was built, what was real, what's totally fake...and it doesn't matter. What matters is that the stakes in the film are crystal clear, the purpose of the characters is laid out carefully, and the sequence just keeps building and building until finally it comes down to three characters and a bridge.
"And since it's a Transformers movie, I'm pleased to see that the three characters who are involved in that ending are the right three. The focus in this film finally feels like it's on the right things and the right moments. If the Chicago sequence was the only great set piece in the film, I'd still say it's worth seeing, but the movie actually features impressive sequences all the way through, including an early encounter with Shockwave in Chernobyl and a really creepy scene where a bird-like Decepticon hunts down and murders all the humans who have helped the Decepticons over the years.
"And through it all, it feels to me like Bay is trying new things, both in the shooting and the cutting. It's not a radical re-invention...it's still recognizably Michael Bay. But the small differences in the rhythms of his shooting and his cutting make a big difference in the overall impact."