Who's In It: Shia LaBeouf, Josh, Duhamel, John Turturro, Frances McDormand, Tyrese Gibson, John Malkovich, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Ken Jeong, Julie White, Kevin Dunn, Patrick Dempsey and the voices of Peter Cullen, Leonard Nimoy, Hugo Weaving
The Basics: So the Decepticons want these pillars that can reshape the universe and it'll help them kill off the Autobots and enslave all the people on Earth but the government doesn't believe this because they forgot that the root word of Decepticon is "deceive" so they're dumb and then Shia and Not Megan Fox have to go rogue and jump start the next robot war but it might be too late because all the big businesses are now run by Decepticon lackeys and so the robots trash Chicago and then comes the part where Shia screams "OPTIMUHHHHSSSS!!!" in the middle of a huge battle. That's always the funniest scene in these movies and it happens in every one of them. Like that guy can even hear you, dummy.
What's The Deal: A non-film-critic friend told me yesterday that liking these movies is the same thing as liking Limp Bizkit and hot dogs from AM/PM convenience stores. Then some other film critics I know told me that liking these movies means I'm not a real film critic anymore, if I ever was. Then Optimus Prime himself came to me in a dream and said, "Thank you, Dave, for liking these films means that you understand our true awesome nature and the beauty of loud idiot garbage about nothing." And I said, "You're welcome, Optimus Prime. Now go make me a sandwich made of metal."
Headache Probability: If you hated the last two movies for their relentless assault of spinning gears and twisted bot-on-bot visual confusion, then you should know that not a single thing has changed, the 3D this one is in will only amplify your agony and you will be way happier choosing that nice Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts movie instead. If, on the other hand, your favorite element of these films is precisely their refusal to comply with your eyeballs' need for stuff to just stop for a minute every once in a while so you can focus and not get sick to your stomach, then yeah, lots more of that.
Employee Of The Month: It's sort of impossible to know if Shia LaBeouf is a good actor or not because he's found a yelling niche that he doesn't seem all that eager to shake. But subtle acting tricks are not what you need from a star in these films. You need somebody who's down for whatever, who doesn't bother asking what the day on set is going to hold, who just stands in front of that green screen and reacts to the spot on the wall and understands that, when you're acting opposite cars and air, you're just a dutiful cog in the machine. He's now a brand you can trust.
Cheesecake Factory: Replacing the smart-mouthed Megan Fox in this chapter is Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Her job is to run across robot destruction wreckage in super-high heels, get thrown around a toppling building (in the movie's greatest, craziest action sequence to date) without soiling or tearing her pristine white jacket, stare blankly at possible end-of-the-world chaos and be less--as in "not at all''--of a contrarian than her predecessor. She's an expert at all that stuff.